FALMOUTH – Selectmen held up their end of a deal with turbine abutters when they voted Monday night to set aside their statement of principles for the operation of wind energy facilities.
The board unanimously rescinded the statement of principles – a guideline of how the town would operate Falmouth-owned turbines for the remainder of the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years – with little discussion.
“I think it’s very important for (turbine abutters) to know that by setting aside the statement of principles, all options are on the table,” said board of selectmen Chairman Kevin Murphy in a phone interview before the meeting.
Murphy put the matter on the agenda after he and Town Manager Julian Suso met with turbine abutters Todd Drummey and Kathryn Elder last week. Drummey and Elder represented a group of abutters who complain the two town-owned 1.65-megawatt turbines, known as Wind 1 and Wind 2, at the wastewater treatment facility on Blacksmith Shop Road and other privately owned turbines cause significant harm to their health and wellbeing.
The group last month announced that unless the town shut off Wind 1 and Wind 2 they would refuse to participate in a panel of town officials, residents and other stakeholders charged with gauging opinions and possible solutions to problems associated with the turbines.
Murphy and Suso compromised with Drummey and Elder last week when they offered to set aside the statement of principles, which includes a stipulation that any mitigation option selectmen considered must include a way to cover $624,000 in turbine operating costs for the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years. In return, the abutters would participate in the turbine analysis process.
“That was one of the big problems with the way things were going,” Drummey said of the clause requiring operating costs be covered. “For us that meant not all options were on the table “» if we’re going to sit down and talk about what to do with the machines, we needed everything to be on the table.”
Before voting Monday night, Selectman Doug Jones, one of the board’s liaisons to the group exploring mitigation efforts, noted that representatives for turbine abutters sat at the table last week and participated for the first time since the panel began meeting about a month ago.
Murphy said he believed every stakeholder’s voice should be heard.
“We hope with this group, (they) can come back to the selectmen with some suggestions,” he said.
His goal, he said, is for the process to deliver suggestions to selectmen by Sept. 1, which would give the board enough time to deliberate and vote on a warrant article for town meeting this fall.