March 13, 2013

Scituate selectmen vote against petition looking to shut down wind turbine

By Patrick Ronan | The Patriot Ledger | Posted Mar 13, 2013 |

Scituate selectmen are opposed to a citizen-led effort to shut down the town’s wind turbine because they say it could expose the town to a costly lawsuit.

On Tuesday night, selectmen unanimously voted against a citizen petition filed by Gerard Kelly, who represents a group of residents who say the wind turbine’s noise and flicker have hurt their health.

The petition, up for a vote at the April 9 town meeting, asks the town to rescind the special permit that allows Scituate Wind, the turbine’s owner, to operate the turbine.

Selectmen said shutting down the turbine could put the town in breach of the 15-year power-purchase contract it has with Scituate Wind.

“We could expect a lawsuit that says we would have to recoup their losses,” Selectmen Chairman Joseph Norton said.

Al Bangert, Scituate’s public works director, estimated that the town could be sued for up to $10 million. This would cover the cost of erecting the turbine and the revenues Scituate Wind expects to collect over 15 years.

The selectmen said no decision on the turbine should be made until the board of health completes a noise study that is expected to start this spring. The study will determine if the turbine complies with state noise standards.

In response, residents argued that the turbine’s shadow flicker alone is a violation of the special permit, awarded by the planning board to Scituate Wind in 2010. The permit says the residence at 151 Driftway, about 600 feet from the turbine, will experience about 50 hours of shadow flicker per year.

Mark and Lauren McKeever, who live at 151 Driftway, have said they experience about three hours of flicker per day, far more than the acceptable amount. Mark McKeever said he has invited officials to come to his home to see the flicker, but no one has showed up.

“It’s bothersome to me, as a taxpayer in this town, that nobody has ever bothered to … come sit and my living room while the flicker has been going on,” McKeever said.

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