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Falmouth turbines spin briefly today, despite court order

FALMOUTH – Despite a Nov. 21 ruling that they be shut down on Thanksgiving, Wind I and Wind 2 were spinning briefly Thursday morning.

The two town-owned turbines ran from 7 a.m. to 7:38 a.m. before being shut down, said Gerald Potamis, wastewater superintendent for the Falmouth Wastewater Department.

Potamis is in charge of turning the turbines on and off manually when necessary.

Around 7:15 a.m., Potamis received an email from Falmouth resident Day Mount, 73, who lives on Blacksmith Shop Road, about a quarter of a mile from the turbines.

“I told (Mount) he could call me any time the turbines were not running properly,” said Potamis.

Potamis, who was on vacation off-Cape when he got the email, was able to electronically and remotely shut down the turbines.

“We made a mistake, but we acted properly and quickly,” Potamis said.

Last week, Barnstable Superior Court Judge Christopher Muse ruled that the turbines’ operation should be reduced from 16 hours a day to 12 hours a day, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. He also ordered that the turbines be shut down on Sundays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

The turbines were off on Sunday, per the court order, said Potamis.

They might have come on Thursday because of a programming error, said Potamis, who will investigate the incident when he returns to the Cape.

Mount said he appreciated the response from Potamis but was disappointed the turbines came on at all.

“It was Thanksgiving morning, and we were looking forward to sleeping in,” said Mount, who has lived on Blacksmith Shop Road for about 11 years.

The two 1.65-megawatt turbines have been a source of anger in the neighborhoods surrounding the wastewater treatment plant on Blacksmith Shop Road ever since they were installed. Some residents have complained about ill health effects caused by their operation.

“Now everyone can worry about the next holiday,” Mount said.