June 14, 2013

Turbine developer watches Bruins, forgets to follow Board of Health order

By Ariel Wittenberg | June 14, 2013 | www.southcoasttoday.com

FAIRHAVEN —The Boston Bruins weren’t the only ones to go into overtime Wednesday night. Fairhaven Wind developer Sumul Shah said he accidentally forgot to turn the town’s two wind turbines off by the 7 p.m. deadline Wednesday night because he was distracted by watching the Bruins play in the Stanley Cup Final.

Shah can manually turn the turbines on and off from his cellphone. But Wednesday night, he said, he accidentally left the phone in a separate room of his house before queuing up the game to watch on his DVR.

“I just dropped the ball on this,” he said Thursday. “It’s human error, but blame it on the Bruins.”

When Shah’s wife arrived home around 11 p.m., he said, he realized he did not have his phone with him.

“She said: ‘I’ve been trying to call you. Where have you been?’ And I looked at my phone and saw I missed the alarm I had set to remind me to turn the turbines off,” he said.

Shah said the mistake was more of an issue of being separated from his cellphone than anything else. He added that residents should not worry about the turbines running past 7 p.m. on Saturday when the Bruins play Game 2.

“I’m rarely separated from my phone,” he said. “My Bruins viewing habit is certainly not something that needs to be worried about.”

The error, which defied an order made by the Board of Health Monday that the turbines be shut off between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., had many calling in to question Shah’s process altogether.

“It’s totally irresponsible,” said turbine opponent Kenneth Pottel. “This is an order by the Board of Health and it’s incumbent upon (the developer) to make sure they can comply.”

Since Monday’s order, Shah has been responsible for turning the turbines on and off manually from his phone. For now, he has an alarm set on his phone to remind him to do so.

Shah said it would be difficult to program the turbines automatically to turn on and off at the appropriate times because doing so requires rewriting the turbines’ software, which has to be done by their manufacturer.

Fairhaven Wind has contacted the manufacturer to begin the lengthy process, but Shah said he did not want to reprogram the turbines until after contract renegotiations with the Board of Selectmen conclude.

“Regardless of the outcome of that, I imagine some automation will result,” Shah said.

In the meantime, he said, Fairhaven Wind is “very interested in having a backup plan,” which could come in the form of a second person being in charge of turning the turbines on and off manually.

Selectmen Chairman Charlie Murphy said he hopes the turbines can be switched to an automatic system soon.

“We’re all hoping the Red Sox go to the World Series,” he said. “We need this fixed by then.”

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2013/06/14/turbine-developer-watches-bruins-forgets-to-follow-board-of-health-order/