September 11, 2013

Falmouth selectmen take turbine question to voters

By SEAN F. DRISCOLL | September 10, 2013 |

FALMOUTH – Once more, with feeling: Selectmen are heading to town meeting to seek voter approval on an operating plan for the town’s twin wind turbines.

Next week, they’ll decide which of four operation plans to put forward – anything from running both turbines 24 hours a day to limiting the turbines’ operation up to eight hours per day.

It’s the board’s second stab at getting a plan past town meeting. The first, a proposal to fund removal of the turbines, was shot down both at a special town meeting in the spring and in a May 21 ballot question.

But now, according to a report from Town Manager Julian Suso presented to the selectmen Monday, there’s more urgency to their decision. The town is facing three lawsuits over the turbine operation, with more on the horizon.

The four plans being considered by the selectmen all would, in theory, generate enough money to fund mitigation options for affected homeowners and could also quiet the lawsuits pending against the town.

“There is an expanding risk that a court order will potentially take control of the matter and the town will be left with no reasonable and effective options,” Suso wrote.

The two 1.65-megawatt turbines, known as Wind 1 and Wind 2, at the town’s wastewater facility on Blacksmith Shop Road have been the focus of an ongoing debate since their installation. Neighbors complain about noise and health issues and others say the town must run them to recoup their installation costs and provide a source of renewable energy.

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