The Town of Fairhaven’s long-delayed attempt to set up two energy generating wind turbines may finally be back on track, as the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative recently announced plans to award their turbines to CCI Energy, LLC, the company which has partnered with Fairhaven in the project.
“I had been hearing off and on for the last few weeks that they would be awarded to CCI,” said Fairhaven Selectman Brian Bowcock. “They were trying to nail down the financial part of it.”
According to Dr. Bowcock, one of the primary investors in CCI, Jay Cashman, withdrew from the partnership in November. Two new undisclosed investors have now signed on, though.
“My understanding is that that is what was holding the thing up,” said Dr. Bowcock.
The turbine plan still has to go through the Conservation Commission and the Planning Board, but it is expected that those will be routine steps that won’t slow down the process.
“The project fits the (wind turbine) guidelines set up by the Planning Board. And it’s in an upland area, not in wetlands,” said Dr. Bowcock. “The turbines will probably be up and running in Fairhaven by summer time. Once the cement footing goes in place, the actual tower goes up in a couple of days. At Portsmouth Abbey (in Portsmouth, RI) it took three days after the parts arrived to have it running. It’s like an erector set.”
Former School Committee member Michael Gagne is serving as the project manager for CCI Energy, but he could not be reached for comment before deadline. Nils Bolgen of the MTC, however, pointed out that it was encouraging to see the turbines finally awarded to a community. There has been discussion since this past summer over who would get the turbines, with Orleans the frontrunner at times since the turbines originally were supposed to be set up there. That town’s project fell through late in 2007, putting them out of the running.
“It’s important to us to see some community-sponsored wind project go forward,” said Mr. Bolgen. “We’re just encouraged to see the developer and the town seem to be making progress in this.”
The MTC is not releasing the specifics of the deal with CCI Energy yet, but Mr. Bolgen said that would likely be made public after the matter is finalized. He did add that the window to reach an agreement is not too lengthy.
“We told (CCI Energy) that we’re not going to discuss selling those turbines to any other parties before Feb. 1, anyways,” he said.
The wind turbine project met with heated debate at last year’s spring Town Meeting, with a well organized group of protesters arguing that locating the towers in the Little Bay area would both disturb a unique ecosystem and adversely impact the residents who lived around there. Issues such as noise and flicker (caused by the turbine turning in the rays of the sun) were among the matters brought up at Town Meeting, but the majority of meeting members decided the pros of environmentally friendly energy generation and increased revenues for the town outweighed the cons.
Dr. Bowcock, a vociferous supporter of this wind project, believes that the turbines will not have much of a negative impact in town.
“It’s hard to see from the (Little Bay)bike path. Unless you’re in an open area the trees obscure the view. If you get near the saltmarsh, yes, you do see the turbines,” he said, adding that letters from opponents suggesting that upwards of 2,000 trees will have to be cut down to make paths to bring in and set up the towers are false. “That’s not the case. They’ll be able to use most of the existing roads.”
Arsene Street will be the main access point, as the turbines will be set up near the town’s wastewater treatment plant off of that road.
By Michael Medeiros
17 January 2008
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