FAIRHAVEN – A spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection said the agency is not worried that its test of Fairhaven’s two wind turbines would be rigged by the developer, in part because of elements in the testing process meant to prevent tampering.
DEP spokesman Edmund Coletta said the agency needs the turbines’ developer, Sumul Shah, to be present during the late-night testing that started last week to coordinate turning the turbines on and off as needed.
But members of the turbine-opposition group Windwise are concerned that Shah’s presence might allow him to tamper with the turbines’ speed.
Both Fairhaven turbines are pitch-regulated, meaning the speed at which they rotate can be controlled by rotating the blades of the turbines along their long axis, adjusting the surface area of the blade that faces into the wind.
Ken Pottel, a member of Windwise, said the group fears Shah could tilt the blades to slow the turbines and thus lessen the noise they make during testing. He said the group is particularly concerned about Shah’s ability to control the turbines remotely from his cellphone and laptop.
“It’s obviously in his best interest to make sure these turbines pass the test,” he said. “How do we know he isn’t controlling the pitch from his phone?”
Shah said he not only “would not do that” but that “it is impossible for me to adjust the speed of the rotor while the turbines are spinning.”
Shah said he can only change the pitch of the blades when the turbine is turned off. If the turbine is on for testing, he said, its speed cannot be controlled.
“I have no intention of doing that and, not only that, I can’t do that; it’s technologically impossible,” he said.
Shah said his primary function in accompanying the testing is to coordinate turning the turbines off when the DEP needs them off, and also making sure the turbines are recording their power output at the time of testing.
Coletta said the DEP has also asked Shah to provide the state agency with data on the turbines’ power generation for both the period during which they are being tested and also when there is no sound sampling taking place.
He said the agency does not suspect tampering would take place but “wants to make sure that the noise recorded during testing is representative of the turbines’ normal operations.”
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