FALMOUTH – The panel charged with finding options to mitigate alleged harm caused by two town-owned wind turbines expects to finalize its recommendations tonight.
During a three-hour meeting Tuesday night, members of the Wind Turbine Options Analysis Process finished going through the three options they plan on presenting to selectmen during a meeting next week.
A draft recommendation dated Jan. 4 that was obtained by the Times details energy, financial and health impacts – as well as uncertainties – for the three suggested options: running the turbines without curtailment; curtailing operation; or replacing the turbines with solar panels.
Members decided that during their 24th and last scheduled meeting, which will take place at the Hermann Foundation room at Falmouth Public Library from 6-9 p.m. tonight, they will go through the 35-page draft recommendation page by page and finalize their approval.
Their tentative approval came after two hours of discussion Tuesday night on what will be a major change to figures within the panel’s report. Process members were told that figures used to calculate the financial benefits of leaving the turbines running without curtailment were based on faulty methodology.
“If we have a report that, in the end different groups don’t even agree is valid, we didn’t really achieve our goal,” said Stacie Smith of the Consensus Building Institute in Cambridge, who the town hired to facilitate the analysis process.
New studies found that Falmouth’s Wind 1 turbine at the wastewater treatment plant on Blacksmith Shop Road generates more power than previously thought. This means the report that will be provided to selectmen will show Wind 1 to be more beneficial to town finances than previously thought – a possible blow to turbine opponents who are hoping to see Wind 1 and Wind 2 shut down completely.
Tony Rogers of DNV KEMA Energy & Sustainability —an expert employed to study the turbine’s power generation – told panel members that he originally found that Wind 1 generated 72 percent of the power generated by the privately owned Notus Clean Energy turbine at the Falmouth Technology Park. The amount of power generated was used to figure out how beneficial running the turbines was to the town’s finances.
But, Rogers said, he did not account for the fact that the data he gathered came during a year that experienced about 5.5 percent less wind than an average year.
Using two alternate methods, he found that Wind 1 could produce as much as 92 percent of the Notus turbine.
Noting that none of the projections were certain and all methods of calculating the energy production had their ups and downs, Rogers said Wind 1 would likely produce between 80 and 88 percent of the energy produced by the Notus turbine.
“We have not had a chance to look at that data or understand it and frankly, I find it hard to believe,” said Katherine Elder, a panel member representing people negatively affected by the town-owned turbines.
After much deliberation, the panel agreed they would adjust the turbines’ financial impact on the town with the assumption that Wind 1 produces 84 percent of the Notus turbine.
In the 22 meetings prior to Tuesday’s session, the group discussed costs and community implications of possible action including moving the turbines and other ideas until agreeing upon the current recommendations.
The task force members are expected to present their findings to selectmen at a meeting in the Falmouth library’s Hermann room at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 15.
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