Falmouth Finance Committee concluded its recommendations of Town Meeting articles this week, including those that could generate the most discussion and possibly the most passion as they deal with the town-owned wind turbines at the Wastewater Treatment Facility.
Since the first turbine, Wind 1, became operational in March of last year, it has become the subject of controversy as abutters have complained about its impact on their health and property values.
The latest chapter in the saga will be played out on Town Meeting floor in November, with Article 9 the centerpiece. Submitted by Barry J. Funfar of Ridgeview Drive, West Falmouth, the article asks that the two wind turbines—Wind 2 is set to go online next month—be shut down until all options for the machines are explored and research and studies show no harm is being done to residents living nearby “to the satisfaction of the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Health.”
The finance committee took no vote on the article (9) as Chairman Gary W. Anderson noted that selectmen will be making their recommendation on Town Meeting floor.
But the committee did highlight the revenue that could be lost and the expense that could be incurred, should the article pass.
Finance committee member Robert G. Ripley Jr. started with the revenue, saying that the town would lose out on $975,000, should the turbines go off-line. That would only be the tip of the financial impacts felt by Falmouth. Beyond that, Mr. Ripley said Falmouth would need to pay $120,000 to cover the energy costs for the Wastewater Treatment Facility that are currently provided by Wind 1.
And then Mr. Ripley mentioned the $524,000 in debt service that Falmouth has to repay for money the town borrowed to purchase and erect the first wind turbine.
Mr. Anderson mentioned the $1 million for renewable energy certificates the town received from the then-Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. These certificates represent the energy expected to be generated by the turbine between the years of 2015 and 2029.
Finance committee member Susan P. Smith asked what would happen to the $5 million stimulus grant the town received from the state to erect Wind 2. Mr. Anderson said that is another concern, one that Falmouth Town Counsel Frank K. Duffy Jr. is looking into.
Some committee members asked who would be speaking on behalf of the town, to which Mr. Anderson said it would most likely be Wastewater Superintendent Gerald C. Potamis or Assistant Wastewater Superintendent Amy A. Lowell.
Mr. Ripley suggested that this one article could generate a lot of emotion on Town Meeting floor. “I think it will be a good one,” he said, to which a fellow committee member blurted out “it’s going to be ugly.”
Committee member Deborah D. Maguire asked whether there was any thought about taking down the turbines and attempting to sell them. Mr. Anderson said that was tied to Article 31, which seeks $30,000 to fund consulting services that would study four potential options to resolve the turbine dilemma in town.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding