FALMOUTH – A long-dormant town-owned turbine could go online by the end of the week.
NStar officials who came to see the 1.65-megawatt Wind 2 turbine in action at the town’s wastewater treatment facility on Tuesday gave it the green light, said Gerald Potamis, the wastewater superintendent who oversees both turbines.
The three blades spinning clockwise at a lazy pace Tuesday represented the next step in the ongoing controversy surrounding Falmouth’s Wind 1 and Wind 2 turbines. Abutters have long complained that Wind 1 causes various health problems.
“You hate to experiment with people’s lives,” said Selectman Brent Putnam, alluding to the agreement that halted operation of Wind 1 but will allow Wind 2 to operate on a temporary basis. “We’ll be able to see if the placement of the turbines makes a difference.”
Wind 2’s operation will test alleged negative effects on abutters in a 60-day trial. In its first 30 days, the turbine will spin without any curtailment. In the last 30 days it will adhere to the same restrictions selectmen put on Wind 1 in February, which include shutting down the turbine when wind speeds reach 23mph.
Town officials will log complaints during the 60 days.
After the 60-day trial, Wind 1 and Wind 2 will both remain off until Falmouth’s annual town meeting in April. Wind 1 will run intermittently, however, so that experts hired by the state Department of Environmental Protection can study its effects on people.
“I think that it’s pretty unnecessary that they go through this test and they expose people on the west side” to the noise, said Malcolm Donald, a Wind 2 abutter and opponent of the turbines.
On Tuesday afternoon, Donald was miles from his home at a public hearing at the Statehouse in Boston, where turbine opponents blasted a 164-page report that found turbines cause no harm to abutters. Donald spoke at the hearing, insisting that issues such as shadow flicker and noise seriously affect residents.
The report was completed by a seven-member panel assembled by the state environmental and health departments.
Approval of Wind 2 coincides with mechanical problems in Wind 1.
When officials tried to start Wind 1 to conduct some tests last week, the blades wouldn’t spin, Potamis said. After inspecting it, officials found that the generator was not functioning.
In an interview, Potamis predicted the generator would be fixed by sometime today, after which crews can put it back into the turbine. The generator was under warranty from Vestas, the company that built the turbine, which is repairing it for no cost.
Putnam, who said he first heard of Wind 1’s generator problem at Monday night’s selectmen meeting, said hearing about the complication when repairs were already under way bothered him.
“Given the controversy of the issue … I’m a little disturbed that the board wasn’t informed sooner,” Putnam said.
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