Falmouth Town Meeting To Vote On Mayflower Wind

Enterprise article, “Falmouth Town Meeting To Vote On Mayflower Wind” by Noelle Annonen and Elizabeth Saito, 1/27/2023

Worcester Court (above) and Central Park in Falmouth Heights are Mayflower Wind’s two preferred cable landfall sites.Worcester Court (above) and Central Park in Falmouth Heights are Mayflower Wind’s two preferred cable landfall sites.

Town Meeting voters will be asked to reverse the select board’s vote last month that denied Mayflower Wind access to town property. A petition submitted for the April Town Meeting warrant would allow the offshore wind company to continue studying landfall sites for its electric cable.

Mayflower Wind has identified two sites in Falmouth Heights for connecting its wind farm to the electrical grid. Both are on town land. The company was in the midst of conducting feasibility studies when the select board voted to withdraw its permission to operate on public lands.

“Our role is to speak out for renewable energy,” petitioner Rosemary Carey said. “Not only for the residents of this town, but for future generations. Many of us feel like we’re doing this work for our kids and grandkids.”

Ms. Carey is joined in the petition by Alessandro Bocconcelli, Linda Bowers, Eleanor Ling, David Mark Welch, Scott Mueller and Matthew Patrick.

Ms. Carey said the petitioners, who are colleagues, neighbors and friends, were “disappointed” by the select board’s December 19 vote barring Mayflower Wind from proceeding. Falmouth Heights residents, who had packed the select board meeting room that evening, applauded the decision, citing damage to their neighborhood should Mayflower’s cable come ashore there.

The wind farm will be constructed in federal waters 30 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and generate enough electricity to power 800,000 homes. The company says it needs to connect to two different land-based substations. One of the proposed substation sites is in Falmouth; the other is in Somerset.

Mayflower Wind LLC is not named in the article, which seeks general permission for “offshore wind developers the right of entry to conduct soil investigations to assess the feasibility of horizontal directional drilling in Town-owned parcels.” But Ms. Carey said the board’s vote on Mayflower Wind prompted the petition.

“This is important to everyone in town,” Ms. Carey said. “We felt it was important to have Town Meeting weigh in on the issue.”

The article argues that if the company is allowed to collect more site data, then the town can make a more-informed decision to allow or disallow cable landfall on public land.

“We need to have all the data before we can make decisions that affect the whole town,” Ms. Carey said.

Petitioners argued that allowing Mayflower Wind to proceed aligns with Town Meeting’s 2020 declaration of a “climate emergency” and its attendant pledge to reduce emissions to zero as soon as technically and economically feasible.

Ms. Carey added that the petitioners support renewable energy and offshore wind development. As long as feasibility studies demonstrate a safe Falmouth connection to the turbines they are behind the project, she said.

Falmouth Heights residents who oppose the cable making landfall in their neighborhood said that they, too, support wind energy—but the company should find a more industrialized site for landing its cable, rather than tunneling under Falmouth Heights Beach.

Ms. Carey said the petitioners feel offshore wind developers bring economic benefit to the town by providing well-paid, local jobs.

Ms. Carey said she and the other petitioners plan to start campaigning by emailing Town Meeting members and meeting with them over coffee. She said she hopes the petition will spark a wider conservation about the importance of renewable energy. She is optimistic the petition will pass, and said combating climate change is a local issue.

The seven petitioners are from the North Falmouth, West Falmouth, Woods Hole, East Falmouth and Waquoit neighborhoods.