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Falmouth wind project delayed for up to three months  

Credit:  By Sean Teehan, Cape Cod Times, www.capecodonline.com 20 July 2011 ~~

FALMOUTH – A wind turbine that was erected earlier this year will likely not spin for another three months.

After an analysis by NStar, Falmouth must add a device that would allow the electric utility to shut off the town’s Wind 2 turbine remotely if it overloads the local power grid.

“We were hoping, obviously, that we’d be able to commission this and have it done definitely by today,” said Gerald Potamis, Falmouth’s wastewater superintendent. According to Potamis, the town originally hoped the turbine would be operational by the beginning of the summer.

The town received notification that the turbine posed a risk to the power grid in October, Potamis said.

About two months ago they agreed to add the device to the turbine.

Wind 2’s liability lies in its proximity to the town’s Wind 1 turbine and two private turbines in Falmouth, said Michael Durand, an NStar spokesman.

“We have got to figure out contingencies that are likely scenarios that could happen to the grid,” Durand said. “There’s a likelihood that those four units … could be on the same circuit at some point” which could overload the grid with electricity.

The approximate $50,000 price tag on the addition was one of the cheaper options to mitigate the problem, according to Potamis.

“At one point we were looking at a possible $100,000 to $200,000 change,” Potamis said. Constructing the turbine cost just under $5 million, he said.

The necessary equipment was ordered about two weeks ago, said Fran Yanuskiewicz, a vice president for Weston & Sampson Engineers Inc., a consultant on the project.

Aside from the addition, the turbine is just about ready to begin operation, according to Yanuskiewicz .

“It’s the only real cost issue,” Yanuskiewicz said. “Once that’s in and installed, the next thing is the witness testing” where NStar officials will examine the turbine and deem whether or not it could jeopardize the grid.

While officials move on changes to Wind 2, Yanuskiewicz’s firm also remains focused on Wind 1, for which selectmen ordered them to compile prices and feasibility for options to reduce harm that abutters say the 1.65-megawatt turbine has caused. Selectmen last week ordered the company to present the data during their meeting on July 25.

At the board of selectmen meeting last week, nearby residents and consultants on the project butted heads over whether vibrations, low frequency sound, and other effects from the turbine cause harm.

During the Monday night meeting, the Wind 2 project came up several times, with several abutting residents decrying the introduction of another turbine in the area.

In a phone interview on Tuesday, Todd Drummey, who has repeatedly spoken out against the Falmouth Wind projects, asserted the delays on Wind 2 underscore an overall lack of proper planning.

“I think it shows that planning for both projects wasn’t as good as it should have been,” Drummey said. “That (hazard to the grid) seems like something they should have found out about a lot sooner.”

Despite the fact Wind 2 has yet to generate power, Potamis said, a late start will not likely result in any additional cost to the town. “We haven’t incurred any delay cost and we don’t expect to,” Potamis said.

Source:  By Sean Teehan, Cape Cod Times, www.capecodonline.com 20 July 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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