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A matter of weeks before Wind 2 is online  

Credit:  By Brent Runyon, Falmouth Enterprise, 6 December 2011 ~~

The second town-owned wind turbine went up at the Wastewater Treatment Plant on Blacksmith Shop Road in January; it is not yet operational. The machine will soon be turned on, Falmouth Wastewater Superintendent Gerald C. Potamis said yesterday.

“The finish line is in sight,” Mr. Potamis said. For months, the town has been waiting to install a back-ordered part that will allow NStar to remotely shut down the turbine in an emergency to protect the grid.

That part is now available and should arrive within the next several days, Mr. Potamis said, and will be installed in the next two weeks. The expected start date for Wind 2 is now sometime in Mid-December, he said.

When the turbine went up in January it was expected to become operational in March. That date was postponed to April, then July, then October and most recently to early December.

“It’s now slipped to mid-December,” Mr. Potamis said. Once the turbine is functioning it will operate with no limits for one month. During the second month the turbine will be shut off when wind speeds exceed 23 miles per hour.

The operational limits were set by an agreement between Falmouth Board of Selectmen and the neighbors of the turbine last month during November Town Meeting, which also suspended operations of Wind 1. Neighbors had submitted a petitioners article to shut down both Wind 1 and Wind 2 until it could be proven that the machines do not cause negative health effects.

Questions have arisen about how residents should file complaints after Wind 2 does become operational.

In an e-mail sent from the town’s wind turbine information account, the procedure for filing complaints was outlined. “The Town will track issues related to Wind 2 during this two month period. In order to be logged an officially tracked as part of this effort, issues must be emailed to this Gmail account (falmouthwind@gmail.com).”

Earlier this year, the board of health designed a form to log the specifics about wind turbine complaints. One board member questioned why the board of health complaint form was not being utilized to gather data on Wind 2. “We’ve gone to all this trouble to set up a complaint log,” board member John B. Waterbury said. “By far the most useful thing to do would be to direct people to go online with the complaints through the board of health website.”

The board of health form would log times and dates and specific situations related to the wind turbine, while residents who send an e-mail to the town e-mail account are asked to be as specific as possible, he said.

Other board members said the town had decided to accept complaints only through the e-mail address.

Some residents have said they will not use the board of health form, because the data collected included names and addresses and are a part of the public record. The Enterprise published a summary of those complaints in September after a public records request, which some residents said was an invasion of their private medical complaints.

Board member Jared V. Goldstone said the names and addresses should have perhaps been redacted from the complaints before being released. Records might have also been withheld if there is an ongoing investigation, he said.

Chairman Gail M. Harkness suggested that the town adopt a privacy policy about comments received from residents. She presented several examples of privacy policies from other towns. Some towns protect the identities of people who submit comments by assigning a randomly generated number to each complainant.

Town counsel Frank K. Duffy Jr. has said that the wind turbine complaints are public records.

Residents who are concerned about privacy may choose not to submit complaints at all, Dr. Goldstone sasd. Complaints collected from the town e-mail address will also be part of the public record.

“Please be aware that information submitted is part of the public record,” wrote the public relations consultant in an e-mail announcing that Wind 2 would soon begin operations.

Wind 2 was funded with a $5.8 million grant from the American Recovery and reinvestment Act. If operating at full capacity it is expected to bring in as much as $400,000 annually to the town.

Source:  By Brent Runyon, Falmouth Enterprise, 6 December 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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