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Fairhaven turbine down because of foundation problem

FAIRHAVEN – The north turbine is down for maintenance after a routine inspection found its foundation to be slightly off-level.

Both of Fairhaven’s two turbines are secured into the ground with bedrock anchors that stick through three feet of soil and attach to the turbines’ concrete foundations.

Turbine Developer Sumul Shah said the north turbine has slightly sunk into that soil area so one side of the foundation is one-fifth of an inch lower than the other.

Though Shah said that means the turbine itself is “slightly tilted,” he characterized the issue as “really insignificant.”

“This is absolutely not a safety issue, or a structural issue or something residents should be worried about,” Shah said. “As the owner of a project we hired a company to build everything perfectly to specifications and we are making sure we get what we paid for.”

Turbines are supposed to settle into soil in their first two years of operation, Shah said. Because of that, there is an inspection protocol to ensure that they are settling evenly. A November inspection using “very sophisticated tools” found the issue with the north turbine and no issues with the south turbine.

The turbine is expected to remain out of operation for another week so that grout used to balance the machine can have time to dry and strengthen.

The maintenance will be covered by the foundation’s warranty, Shah said. The turbine will be inspected by a special engineer before being turned on again.

Ken Pottel, a member of turbine-opposition group WindWise, said he was worried about the north turbine, which has recently had battery problems.

“It’s a never-ending story with that one,” he said. “Of course they minimize everything.”

Pottel said the town should hire an independent engineer to check everything the turbine developer does before the it is switched back on.

“Heaven forbid we have any problem down the road, they should take every step possible,” he said.