FAIRHAVEN – Opponents of bringing wind turbines to property off of Arsene Street in Fairhaven shouldn’t get too excited over the news that the Massachusetts Technological Collaborative has chosen Orleans as the recipients of two turbines that they currently have in storage.
The MTC announced last week that Fairhaven no longer was at the head of the list to receive the turbines, as Orleans’ once derailed project was back on track. Since Orleans was where those turbines initially were headed, they leaped past Fairhaven despite the fact that work in town was slated to begin in early fall and their project was at least a year away from beginning.
“We’re disappointed obviously that the status has changed to put us second in line behind Orleans, but we’re still very much excited to be putting turbines on the site,” said Jim Sweeney, head of CCI Energy, Inc., the group granted the right to install the turbines at town meeting this past May. “There are replacement turbines we can order, but we’re determining whether we should order now.”
Mr. Sweeney says he has been in frequent discussions with wind turbine manufacturer Vestas, and that the company has been “jumping through hoops” to make two turbines available for the Fairhaven project. Even if an order is placed, it will take about 18 months to deliver the turbines to Fairhaven, substantially delaying the project. And on top of that, buying turbines from Vestas would add between $600,000 and $800,000 to the cost. Selectman Brian Bowcock, though, isn’t too worried about that. He has been working with the MTC for years while leading Fairhaven’s efforts to bring turbines to town, and he believes that it’s possible the quasi-public agency might allocate some funding to make up the difference if Orleans does end up getting the cheaper turbines. If the cost does remain at that level, Mr. Sweeney says that the deal made with the town can be renegotiated.
“The job was very marginal (profit-wise) to start with, so this would make it questionable.Fairhaven is making a lot more money than we are, but we’re doing this to get our foot in the door and have a demonstration project. But at the rate we’re going, we can’t afford to lose money. Hopefully we’ll rearrange the deal and see if the town is willing to work with us,” he said, noting that the cost of erecting the turbines would also likely go up if CCI has to wait 18 months to begin work.
CCI is currently also involved with bringing turbine projects to Dartmouth and Fairhaven, and he says that, if there is a delay here, Dartmouth could actually end up starting before Fairhaven. New Bedford’s negotiations could take a while because mayor Scott Lang is opposed to CCI’s proposal to erect turbines at their wastewater treatment site in the south end near Fort Taber.
Mr. Sweeney also thinks a counteroffer could eventually be accepted by the MTC, even if they aren’t exactly amenable to it yet.
“My own opinion is the MTC should just let us use their turbines, and Orleans could use our replacement turbines because this would probably fit the timelines of the projects better. I mentioned this to the MTC, and they didn’t feel the same way,” he said.
Prior to the decision to award Orleans the turbines, Fairhaven had been vying with Otis Air Force Base and the town of Falmouth for the two turbines.
By Michael Medeiros
12 July 2007
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