Select Board 12/20/21 10-Minute Update on Mayflower Wind Cable Project Turns Into 35 Minutes with Citizen Comments

The article below reports more detail than the Falmouth Enterprise 12/21/21 article, “Mayflower Wind Plans Onshore connection at Falmouth Heights” (also published on 12/24/21 print edition, page 1).

At the Select Board (SB) meeting on December 20, 2021 (watch YouTube by scrolling to minute 54 through 1:30), Assistant Town Manager Mr. Johnson-Staub stated that “If we move forward with landfall in Falmouth, there will be opportunity for public input before a final decision is made”. He gave a quick outline of the progress to date after which 4 members of the audience spoke.

The preferred route makes landfall on the Heights Beach area, then up Worcester Court/Ave. to Jones Road and Gifford. The alternative route also makes landfall on the Heights Beach, at Central Park Ave., then through the Park, along Crescent Ave. and up Falmouth Heights Road to Jones and Gifford.

From the Falmouth Enterprise: “Mr. Johnston-Staub said that the independent consultant’s report evaluating the proposal will be made available to the public before a Town Meeting vote. The project still needs federal, state and local permits, including approval from Falmouth’s conservation commission, location approval from the Select Board and Town Meeting approval for easements and article 97 relief. Article 97 relief refers to protection of land that has been taken for open space or conservation. A variance from the terms of that protection, in this case, of the town-owned Falmouth Heights Beach, requires Town Meeting approval.” Also, there will be an agreement regarding mitigation of any disruption.

The SB then called for questions from the audience which they will record for their further investigation.

David Moriarty asked 3 pertinent questions and had a follow-up concern: 1) “will the radiation be measured before and during the project and who will monitor it after the project?”; 2) “who will make up the difference for the loss in equity in these homes – the town, Mayflower Wind, the Federal Government?”; and, 3) “will the business owners be compensated for their losses?” He was also concerned that there has been an increase to 1200 Megawatts, twice the size of Pilgrim Nuclear Plant, going under residential neighborhoods affecting our children and grandchildren (Ed: Pilgrim had production of 680 MW when it closed in 2019). There was further noteworthy SB discussion regarding who will monitor radiation upon completion, who will vet the monitor, etc. “The infrastructure is already in Fall River, connected to 7 states. It makes no sense to come to Falmouth”.

Marc P. Finneran asked, “Who is going to protect us from the substantial electro-magnetic field?” Already, the change in the local radio tower interferes with radio in this area. He has heard that the cable “will be insulated but will not be shielded” from EMFs. (SB Chair Doug Brown said there was mention of shielding, but will add this to their list of questions). Why can’t they put this cable in with the one in Somerset, MA? (Mr. Johnston-Staub said MFW is pursuing Falmouth at the direction of ISO (Ed: International Organization for Standardization) and having both locations will create redundancy).

Dave Buzanoski, FHMNA President, reported that in the past we have just asked questions but recently have canvassed our members regarding the location of cables going through the Heights. 86% of the respondents to our survey OPPOSED the cables while only 14% of the respondents APPROVED. He stated that “To be clear, we are not opposed to clean energy initiatives or wind generation, we’re specifically opposed to the cables transiting our beach, and one of the oldest and most densely-populated communities in town.” He further elucidated a number of our members’ concerns: the major concern of health and safety over the long term; going through the recently destroyed (by the wind storm and sewer installation) and reclaimed park; the various number of cables that have ranged from 3-5 and could that number expand even further; any deed restrictions and the rights of abutters to the park; zoning rules and exemptions – in whose best interest are these being made. He asked if the Town suggested any alternatives to this location? (SB Chair Doug Jones replied they prioritized and were hoping for Surf Drive). See the full text of Dave’s presentation here. “Let’s not make mistakes here” (Ed: audience clapped).

Falmouth Heights resident Greg Mazmanian (FHMNA Director speaking personally as a taxpayer) asked, “Why would you put high-voltage wires under the most highly dense area in town? Mayflower Wind wants it there because it is the shortest distance to the substation. This is all about cost.” Mayflower Wind has deep pockets and we’re just a small area. Falmouth Heights Beach is probably the most visited beach (tourists, taxpayers, events) and it is also subject to erosion. Our residents are mostly in a flood plain and in a few years it wouldn’t be surprising if the water is up to the bulkhead. What’s going to happen when all that water is sitting on top of 1200 megawatts? We have to use common sense and challenge Mayflower to find alternative routes that have little or no impact on taxpayers and the general public. (Ed: audience clapped).