Offshore wind contractors met with Falmouth town officials for almost two years holding its first public forum meeting on June 8, 2022. The proposal was to place four underground cable ducts through miles of congested residential neighborhoods and build a power substation to get power to Boston.
The emails and public comments from the forum to the Falmouth Select Board were overwhelming against the project.
On July 29, 2022, the offshore wind company "temporarily" suspended its petition to the Massachusetts Energy Facility Siting Board to place offshore wind cables through Falmouth. Contractors state they will be back.
As of August 1, 2022, offshore wind contractors have proposed placing a four-duct cable system through the Town of Portsmouth, Rhode Island using HVDC, high voltage direct current cables. There are up to five other offshore wind companies looking to use those cable ducts to get to the old Brayton Point power station being rebuilt as a power substation for offshore wind.
Each cable duct in Portsmouth and/or Falmouth could hold a set of HVDC offshore wind cables equal to 800 megawatts of power each for a total of 3200 megawatts in each duct system. To put it in perspective the old Cape Cod nuclear power plant had a total output of 680 megawatts. The offshore wind power buried through residential streets would equal over four times the nuke plant.
The main issue for residents living along these underground cable routes is no U.S. federal standards limiting general public or occupational exposure from HVDC transmission lines. No health studies exist in the United States as there is only a hand full of HVDC projects.
Offshore contractors contend international health organizations have health studies for HVDC cables that can be found online. On the other hand, the Town of Falmouth installed two land-based commercial megawatt wind turbines with wind contractors in 2010 and 2012. The turbines were demolished on September 26 and October 5 as the Massachusetts courts and Falmouth zoning board determined the turbines a health nuisance in 2015 and 2017.
There was a questionnaire sent by post and distributed by campaign groups in 1980 to people living near a 400,000-volt HVDC overhead power line in Minnesota, followed up by telephone calls. The survey was called the "Minnesota Landowner Health Perceptions Survey."
Up to 35% of the respondents said they had suffered adverse health effects that they attributed to the HDVC power line.
An epidemiologic study was not conducted on the residents as there are so few high voltage direct current lines in the USA.
Many residents think they are helping to advance Green Energy by allowing offshore wind companies to place cables through their local towns. The simple fact is the land route saves ocean contractors millions of dollars by avoiding placing expensive submarine high-voltage direct XLPE cables underwater to the large cities.
These land routes through residential neighborhoods could all be avoided with the use of ocean submarine cables directly to the power destinations such as Boston.
On September 1, 2022, five states Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island are seeking an RFI, Request for Information, particularly for offshore wind cabling. The RFI is to leverage federal funding for ocean wind submarine cables. Comments are due by email on October 14, 2022.
The RFI: "New England Requests Information on Electric Grid Upgrades To Integrate Offshore Wind" is looking for the benefit of offshore transmission lines, including high voltage direct current submarine cables, and consider environmental justice concerns as electric infrastructure decisions are made
The bottom line is the five states and the federal government could help offshore wind companies finance expensive submarine cables to large cities using funds from legislation already approved. This would avoid health issues such as the threat of childhood Leukemia along buried underground residential cable routes through local neighborhoods.