FAIRHAVEN – Despite a pending lawsuit and a possible Town Meeting reversal, construction of a pair of wind turbines off Arsene Street continues on schedule and will be completed this spring, weather permitting, according to the developers, Fairhaven Wind LLC.
Project supervisor Mel Dishman told The Standard-Times that the turbines – including a third one destined for Scituate – have arrived in the Port of Providence and are ready to be shipped when the platforms are ready.
Construction of the platforms is under way, with the land cleared and 40-foot anchors being bored into the bedrock. At the surface there will be a concrete slab the size of an above-ground pool, 24 feet in diameter and 5 feet thick, to support the 396-foot towers and blades.
Developer Gordon Deane of Palmer Capital said that the shipment of the parts will take several days, probably stretching to mid-February, and several days to assemble. Following that, said Dishman, there will be about eight weeks of testing before the turbines enter service.
The timing is notable: The parts will be arriving just about the time a special Town Meeting is scheduled, Feb. 16, with the intent of killing the project and making it easier to recall elected officials.
What remains of a lawsuit seeking to block the project will be working its way through Superior Court, charging zoning violations and questioning the legality of the lease because one land parcel was misidentified, a charge the judge said had merit.
Attorney Ann DeNardis, who represents the local Windwise chapter opposing the project, did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday, although on Tuesday she told The Standard-Times she intends to file an appeal of the court’s rejection of an injunction against the project.
While all of this is going on, a larger debate continues between those who believe wind turbines pose health risks and those who don’t.
Deane said: “Are we concerned that people may continue to press claims? Yes. Unfortunately that’s a fact of life these days. I would hope that the recent study that came out by the state and a similar one two weeks ago in the state of Oregon, which came to similar conclusions,” would be persuasive.
“I know at least three or four, probably more than that, expert panels (were) hired to look into the issues and came to the same conclusions” as the panel assembled by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Deane said.
That panel’s results were unveiled Tuesday, concluding there is no good evidence for ill effects on health. But Windwise Massachusetts pounced, accusing the panel’s seven members of having a predetermined conclusion, committing a whitewash and cherry picking their sources and ignoring opposing views.
The group called on the state to gather its own data and do its own epidemiological study, including interviewing those in Falmouth who say they are sick because of wind turbines there.
Local member Grant Menard said the state’s panel “picked the one study that best fits their bias.” He said that with the obstacles ahead, he, his young family and his neighbors near the turbines may just have to hope for the best.
Selectman Brian Bowcock said Wednesday he expects at least one representative of the state to attend a hearing at the Middle School at 7 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the issue.
Ed Colletta, spokesman for the DEP, was noncommital Wednesday about Windwise’s request for a new study, saying only that the state will take into consideration all that is said and submitted to three official hearings on the report, including one in Bourne on Feb. 16 – one day after Town Meeting.
Bowcock said that five years after the original Town Meeting approval and all of the work on the contract, the financing and the legalities, he does not believe reversal of the 2007 vote would be legal. But that has yet to be determined.