Recent weeks have seen an escalating controversy over Falmouth’s two wind turbines. Abutters claim the turbines make them ill, the energy committee chair asserts that “the voice of the people” supports the turbines and everyone in town worries over the financial impact of removing the turbines.
Indeed, the financial concerns are quite real. Town Manager Julian Suso estimates that removal of the turbines could cost up to $15.2 million. The town stands to lose close to $1 million a year--the value of the power generated by the turbines. There are also myriad concerns over the financing package that built the turbines at a cost of some $10 million.
Falmouth Energy Committee member Richard Koehler says that removing the turbines “puts us $12 million to $18 million in the hole.” We assume that higher number includes lost revenue, re-financing and other costs, versus the town manager’s $15.2 million figure.
Perhaps there’s a better solution: eminent domain.
Quite simply, the town could take the abutters’ land by eminent domain, pay the owners a fair price and continue to operate the turbines as built. Eminent domain is a taking of land “for the public good” – if ever there was a “public good” here, it is to save the town millions of dollars over a shrill minority.
In a letter to the state Energy and Environment secretary, Falmouth energy committee chair Megan Amsler refers to removing the turbines “because they bother 19 people within a 1/3 mile.” What might it cost the town to take the land of those abutters?
You can buy a lot of real estate with $15 million.