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E-mails reveal maneuvering by town government on turbines

This is a letter about e-mails. Special e-mails between industrial wind developer Gordon Deane and the town of Fairhaven. E-mails they probably thought no one else would read.

Fairhaven town officials have been trying to bring industrial wind turbines to Fairhaven for years. Finally under the guise of the Mass Green Communities Act, the town along with the developer Gordon Deane move forward without notifying abutters, holding hearings or going before the usual boards. Why bring industrial turbines to Fairhaven? Money. Apparently, greed outweighs harm from noise, infrasound, lowering of property values and shadow flicker to nearby residents.

After reading the e-mails, received by virtue of a Freedom of Information Act request, I began to realize that the developer Gordon Deane was assisted every step along the way by town administrators to make the wind project happen in Fairhaven. E-mails, conference calls and meetings too numerous to count reflect the support that the town gave to the developer. Mr. Deane would make requests for certain documents, signatures, plans and advice. Town officials would comply. How lucky for an industrial wind turbine developer to have such an alliance for a project of this magnitude!

There must have been conversations concerning the school vote. Would the turbines impact the vote if parents found out? What discussions and careful planning must have occurred? On Nov. 4, 2011, Fairhaven Wind LLC turbine developer Gordon Deane states in an e-mail to Fairhaven Executive Secretary Jeffrey Osuch, “Congratulations on the vote on the new school building. A bit closer than you might have wanted but a solid win nonetheless.” In an earlier e-mail, (Sept. 29) he demonstrates concern about lots 8 and 8A, which special Town Meeting voted on May 15, 2007, and states to Jeffrey Osuch, —¦The lease includes lot 9 and that is where the north turbine appears to be located. Is there some other document that refers to lot 9? Was there a Town Meeting approval before going out to bid that might have referenced Lot 9?”¦Good thing you have another special town meeting coming up soon in case we need to get this fixed!?”

Well, they decided not to put the new location of the turbine for Town Meeting to vote. I guess they figured no one would find out that it was being erected on the wrong parcel of land. However, in my opinion, they chose not to put it on the ballot because a) it would publicly alert the abutters and residents to the wind turbine project, b) it could alter the school vote because maybe parents would not vote for a new school so close to two 400-foot industrial wind turbines. Hence, the e-mail from Gordon Deane stating ” ( Oct. 17) —”To help with keeping a low profile on this project, [Jeffrey] was suggesting”¦”. which also explains why a project of this magnitude was not brought before the Finance Committee, DPW, School Committee and Board of Health. “To help with keeping a low profile on this project.” Remember those words.

Throughout the e-mails there is ongoing communication between a town official and Mr. Deane with the town guiding Mr. Deane through some of the process. As I read on, I got the impression that the turbine project was a done deal and Mr. Deane knows ahead that documents will be signed without a problem from the town. For example, in a letter to Mass CEC on Sept. 12, Mr. Deane states that he put a $340,000 down payment on the turbines in China. This occurred even before the Fairhaven selectmen signed an October lease. In another e-mail, he is addressing building inspector Wayne Fostin Oct 17,”I understand you will be taking care of the certificate of compliance this evening “¦ Please include the certificate of compliance for recording in the package that Jeffrey is sending”¦”. Did he become Mr. Fostin’s boss? Who gives directives to our Fairhaven town employees – a developer of a wind project?

On Sept. 13, 2011, Selectman Brian Bowcock sent a letter to Mass CEC asking for Mr. Deane to receive no penalty regarding tax credits because the project is not on time. However, after continued reading, I noticed the letter is really from Mr. Deane who requests it to be copied on town letterhead and then signed by Selectman Bowcock. In other words, whatever the developer requests, town officials comply. One e-mail asks that the selectmen sign certain documents but emphasizes to keep them undated. I question how ethical is that?

There are e-mails about Director Nils Bolgen of the Mass CEC (formerly of MTC who if you remember the last time was trying to unload the 2 Vesta turbines to us which Falmouth got) also giving advice how to make this project happen when Mass CEC gave them some difficulty about the timeline of the project. (Aug. 4, 2011) Mr. Deane states to Mr. Osuch, “Nils now sounds very much like he would like to find a way to make this work. In particular, at the end of the call, he was lamenting the fact that wind projects were not proceeding as the Commonwealth had hoped and MassCEC does not want to be the barrier. …they really want Fairhaven to be next so they have some successes to point to.” So that is what we are – just a number to make them look good?

The residents of Fairhaven are not naïve, gullible nor ignorant. The residents are connecting the dots and I believe they see that this project has been handled in a secretive, deceitful and underhanded manner. That the information from the developers is biased when the presenters receive monetary gain by the wind industry. That Mass CEC, which gives the tax credits, needs to promote turbines because the state’s projected numbers are down. With a monetary gain by so many involved in this project, I have to wonder what happens to honesty, integrity and caring to those poor residents living near the turbines.

Nowhere in the e-mails did I find a concern that the two 400- foot industrial wind turbines will be too close to neighborhoods. Nowhere in the e-mails did I find a concern for all the residents who will be negatively impacted by the shadow flicker, ice drops, ice flings, lowered property value and worst of all the noise and infrasound.

In my opinion, this project was shamefully maneuvered by our town administrators to aid the developer who states on Nov. 4, 2011, “Jeffrey, Just to let you know, today almost all documents have been signed and placed into escrow “¦. My thanks to you, Tom Crotty and the Selectmen for all of the support and patience over the years.”

Well, speaking as a resident of this wonderful town of Fairhaven, a town about to be torn apart, thanks but no thanks.

Joyce Pottel