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Fairhaven Wind defies shutdown order

FAIRHAVEN – The developer of Fairhaven’s two wind turbines decided Friday night to resume overnight turbine operation just five days after the Board of Health ordered the turbines be turned off overnight.

Palmer Capital Corporation President Gordon Deane wrote in a letter to town officials that the while the turbines had been “voluntarily curtailed” since Monday, “at present there is no legal obligation for Fairhaven Wind to curtail or alter its operations.”

Deane could not be reached for comment, but Developer Sumul Shah said the company had not received the Board of Health’s order in writing.

“Until the Board of Health issues the order we are not curtailing the turbines,” he said. He would not say if the operations would be curtailed once an order is received saying, “we’ll have to see what it says.”

Chairman Peter DeTerra said the Board of Health will sign the required paperwork and send it to Fairhaven Wind on Monday. But, he said, Fairhaven Wind “should be in good faith and leave them off.”

“It’s a common courtesy for the people of Fairhaven,” DeTerra said. The developers “should respect the decision of the Board of Health.”

Selectman Geoffrey Haworth said the distinction Deane and Shah made between hearing the Board of Health’s vote and reading an order was merely semantics.

“They know the will of the board,” he said. “They were sitting there during the vote. If they turn the turbines on at night because they don’t have a piece of paper, that’s not working in good faith.”

In his statement, Deane said Fairhaven Wind “remains genuinely interested in working with the town” to address turbine concerns.

Haworth said he wasn’t so sure, especially given that the notice was sent to town officials at 10 p.m. on Friday.

“Everyone knows government shuts town at 4:30 p.m. on Friday and doesn’t reopen until 9 a.m. Monday,” he said. “If they wanted to work with us, they would have at least given us notice during normal business hours.”

Selectmen Chairman Charlie Murphy said he “had hoped we would be able to just be civil” about the turbines.

He said Friday’s notice has only made him “more determined” to “get this resolved quickly.”

“We can’t have people wondering when the turbines are going to be on or off,” he said. “We have to go after what we want.”

Turbine opponent Kenneth Pottel said his group, Windwise, was filled with “a lot of anger” Friday night when members heard of the developer’s decision.

“To us, we are not surprised because they haven’t been sincere from the beginning,” he said. “This shows them for who they really are.”

He said the first two nights after the Board of Health voted to keep the turbines off between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. were “so heartwarming.”

“People were out in their backyards, they were finally living normal lives,” he said. “This is inexcusable.”