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Turbine discussions continue as compromise sought

FAIRHAVEN – Selectmen seemed to be getting closer to an agreement with Fairhaven Wind LLC Wednesday after holding several meetings.

A steering committee made up of town and state officials met with the developer in Town Hall yesterday afternoon. When they came out for a break, they said they couldn’t talk about the negotiations that were going on.

Town officials went into the meeting with a proposal that apparently stemmed from an executive session Monday night between selectmen and the Board of Health.

After the steering committee met last Wednesday, Select Board Chairman Charles Murphy said they wanted to reach a compromise that would protect residents’ health while avoiding costly litigation.

On June 10, the Board of Health voted to order the turbines shut down from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. after the tests showed they exceeded state noise regulations. The state regulations set a 10 decibel limit for how much the turbines can increase background noise.

In a July 11 letter to the Board of Health, Gordon Deane of Fairhaven Wind LLC said they’d made “substantial progress on settlement discussions” in a July 10 meeting.

On July 1, Sumul Shah of Fairhaven Wind LLC said shutting one turbine down at night would be the easiest way to bring the turbines into compliance, but he asked for the steering committee to be formed to pursue a more permanent solution.

One option that seems to be on the table is to reduce the number of night-time hours the turbines are shut down. Changes in turbine operation might include some loss of revenue for the town.

Peter DeTerra, chairman of the Board of Health, said most of the complaints about noise are between 10 p.m. and around 5 a.m. He said most are concentrated in the winter months when there are no leaves on the trees.

The turbines failed tests in November 2012 and March and April this year.

If an agreement is reached before next week’s paper, it will be reported on the Advocate’s website, SouthCoastToday.com/Advocate