FAIRHAVEN – The Fairhaven wind turbines will finally be turned on early next week following months of controversy over their potential health effects on the surrounding community. Wind One will activate on April 24, with Wind Two turning on the following day.
The turbines, located near the town’s wastewater treatment plant off Arsene Street, were originally slated to begin energy production two days earlier on Earth Day but were delayed because of a holdup in receiving parts for the turbine’s transformers. The parts are expected to arrive in Fairhaven from the Midwest late this week and crews will work through the weekend to meet the April 24 deadline, Fairhaven Executive Secretary Jeffrey Osuch said.
Residents may see the turbines spinning as early as Thursday when energy will begin flowing to the turbines; however, the turbines will not be producing energy. Lumus Construction Inc. CEO Sumul Shah said although the turbines may spin they will not be moving at full speed and the noise of their movement will not be indicative of what it could be after the 24th.
“You might hear a little whooshing sound but it won’t be as loud as it might be when they are actually running,” he said.
As a precursor to the full activation of the turbines next week, Lumus Construction tested the turbine’s sensors during the weekend. The test, which required the turbines to be connected to a generator, caused the turbine to slightly spin.
“We needed to make sure all of the control systems were up and working before they actually start spinning,” Shah said.
After the turbines begin operating early next week, Lumus will continue to monitor the turbines. For the first few days the turbines are activated, they will be operating at 50 percent of rated power, meaning they will be manually prevented from producing more than 750 kilowatts of energy even if wind speeds are high. During that time, Shah said, Lumus will run diagnostic tests to ensure the turbines are running smoothly.
Once the turbines begin to turn Monday and Tuesday, there are no plans to turn them off unless there are problems that need to be fixed.
After 10 days of the turbine working “flawlessly,” the machines will be deemed “acceptable” and will be able to reach top energy production, if wind speeds allow.
The project has been an issue of contention in Fairhaven, pitting selectmen against residents whose property abuts the turbines. Those residents, organized into the group WindWise, worry that both the noise level of the turbines and the flicker caused by the turbine’s rotating shadow will create health problems for neighbors.
Ken Pottel of WindWise said the organization is working with the Board of Health to set up a process for people to lodge complaints.
“We know the two of those turbines together will impact some people living within 3,000 feet of the property,” he said. “There’s going to be an impact. What we don’t know is how much, how big and how bad it will be.”
Pottel said his primary concern is noise created by the turbines causing sleep deprivation for neighbors.
Selectmen were hesitant to guess what the effect of the turbines will be or how the town will react once they are turned on.
“I don’t think anybody knows,” said Selectman Bob Espindola, who was an outspoken opponent to the turbine project. “There are certainly issues to look out for but we have to hope for the best.”
Selectman Charlie Murphy agreed, saying while he was unsure of the reaction to the turbines, the town would ensure they were the best they could be.
“We are really going to make sure that they are the healthiest, safest turbines in the whole, entire area.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding