Tale of Two Wind Turbines and a Vietnam Vet

Short-lived Massachusetts renewable energy project crashes to the ground.

Huey helicopters had a distinctive sound

While European nations are scrambling to add wind turbines and other renewable energy to their electric grids, we come across a surprising story of two wind turbines, that were just demolished in Falmouth, Massachusetts. Turbines named “Wind 1” and “Wind 2” were installed at the Falmouth Waste Water Plant, using loans that totaled $11.5 million dollars.

Operation of the two wind turbines, which began in 2010 and 2013, soon brought complaints and lawsuits from neighbors who wanted them removed, due to their “anxiety, headaches, problems sleeping, and excessive noise.”

Abutting neighbor Barry Funfar, a Vietnam combat veteran who has post-traumatic stress disorder, said the noise and pulsing-air sensation from the turbines prevented him from being in his garden.
“Once these turbines were in, it’s like — it was just something they did to me,” he said. “It was like a feeling in my chest, that I couldn’t stand to be out there anymore. I was, like, a helicopter door gunner in Vietnam for 19 months…”

Jennette Barnes | Two Falmouth wind turbines sparked a lawsuit; now they’re being demolished | CAI | September 26, 2022
The first wind turbine was 1,662 feet from the Funfar’s home, the second was 1,558 feet.
Google map location link

Barry Funfar and his wife sought help from town officials and the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) agreed that the turbines were a nuisance. The town then sued the ZBA and the Funfars. The town lost when a Barnstable Superior Court judge ordered the turbines to cease operations in 2017. At a cost of $39,000-plus for demolition of the pair, the second wind turbine came crashing down October 5, 2022.

Barry Funfar, who lives about 1,500 feet from the turbine, was able to watch the structure come down from his rooftop deck. Although Funfar said the operation of the turbines ruined seven years of his life, seeing the turbine fall was anticlimatic. The real victory, he said, came in 2017 when turbine operations were permanently stopped due to a court order.

Asad Jung | Second wind turbine razed marking end of Falmouth renewable energy project. Here’s why | Cape Cod Times | October 6, 2022
VIDEO: How noisy is a wind farm?
(Wind turbines generate low-frequency noise and infrasound)
VIDEO: Sound of a Huey helicopter:

“When I came home…all the protests, insults…that hurt me more than combat…was filled with anger and depression…I was one of those that came home and didn’t say a word to anyone…bringing back memories took a lot of time…lots of pain, lots of sessions…I’ve gone back to Vietnam for therapy several times…the war NEVER goes away…those of us that were in war, it never leaves.”

Marine Corps Sergeant Barry Funfar | VMO–2 Marine Corps Air Wing | February ’68 to October ’69
Flew 127 missions as a Huey door gunner – Awarded 7 Air Medals
Veterans Spotlight — US Marine Corps Sergeant Barry Funfar | The Enterprise | May 21, 2021
Voters had approved $2.5 million at a 2020 town meeting to dismantle the turbines…

The town initially wanted to have the turbines moved and operated elsewhere, though that idea never got off the ground. Falmouth also faced pushback from the state which denied its request to dismantle the turbines saying they were an “energy-efficient project.” 
“Obviously it was by far the town’s largest renewable energy project, but with that said there are many opportunities that we can now explore for other renewable energy projects,” said Peter Johnson-Staub, acting town manager. He mentioned a focus on solar and energy-efficiency projects. 

Asad Jung | After years of uncertainty, Falmouth wind turbines to be demolished | June 6, 2022
Solar arrays near Pittsburgh, PA

“I feel sad about the whole thing, you know? It’s too bad, because when they first went up, I was so proud of my town. I was like, ‘Wow, this is great. You know, we’re cutting edge,’ but … It’s a shame how it went, you know? It’s too bad.”

Falmouth Select Board member Doug Brown, who wishes Town Meeting had received more information about potential noise levels before approving the turbines

MORE: Posts about Falmouth wind turbines on “Stop These Things” blog

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