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Mechanical error taints state turbine test  

Credit:  By ARIEL WITTENBERG | March 1, 2013 | www.southcoasttoday.com ~~

FAIRHAVEN – The Department of Environmental Protection has discarded sound data on Fairhaven’s turbines obtained one night during October when one turbine was experiencing a technological error.

DEP spokesman Edmund Coletta said the error caused the turbines to spin without producing power and was caught when a DEP technician was reviewing data after the test.

Fairhaven Wind developer Sumul Shah said that on Oct. 15, the south turbine unexpectedly went into “health check mode,” a system review which does not include the technical process that produces power.

Shah, who is usually present for the testing in order to start and stop the turbines at the state’s request, said he usually monitors the turbines’ power production on his laptop throughout the test.

On Oct. 15, however, Shah could not attend the testing and sent a sound engineer in his stead. The engineer used a smartphone to control the turbines and could not simultaneously monitor the power production, Shah said.

“If I had been there with my laptop, we would have realized the problem during testing and could have stopped it then,” he said.

Coletta said discarding the data will delay the completion of the testing, but he did not provide a time frame.

Both Shah and the DEP have reviewed power production of the turbines during other testing dates and did not find any issues, Shah and Coletta said.

Shah was alerted to the error by Louise Barteau, who is a member of Windwise, a group opposing the town’s turbines.

Windwise has long been suspicious of Shah, asserting that he could manipulate the turbines’ rotor speed and sound level during the testing in order to achieve a favorable result in the state testing.

Barteau said the mechanical error revealed a “flaw in the testing process” but said she “could not say” whether she thought it represented any intentional foul play.

Coletta said the DEP has “no concerns at all” that Shah is trying to manipulate the data.

Source:  By ARIEL WITTENBERG | March 1, 2013 | www.southcoasttoday.com

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