FAIRHAVEN – Fairhaven Wind LLC issued a press release March 20 saying the wind turbines at the town’s wastewater treatment facility “had reached a milestone in terms of the total benefits provided to the town from this public-private partnership.” The press release said, “From power sales through the end of 2014, the town had accrued over $500,000 in income from the project.”
Sumul Shah, spokesperson for Fairhaven Wind, issued a statement saying, “All of us associated with Fairhaven Wind are very proud of what the town has accomplished and the benefits which we’ve been able to provide to Fairhaven. In addition to the dollar savings, the town has contributed to cleaner air for its residents and the citizens of the Commonwealth by hosting this project, which generates energy from the wind.”
Fairhaven Wind said all of the electricity produced by the turbines is net metered to the town’s municipal accounts and that Eversource (formerly NSTAR) sends the town a check each month for the electricity produced, “which payments may then be used to help cover other town expenses. To date, these monthly payments have totaled over $2 million.”
He added, “In turn, the town contracted directly with Fairhaven Wind for the power it consumes and shares some of the excess net metering credits with Fairhaven Wind to help to cover the costs for installing and operating the turbines. Fairhaven Wind also makes lease payments to the town.”
He added, “As of the first of the year, electricity prices from Eversource increased substantially and the basic service charge is now more than twice the rate being charged in the summer of 2012 when the turbines were first operating. In contrast, the base power rate charged to the town by Fairhaven Wind for power from the turbines has gone up less than 5 percent from 7.43 cts to 7.78 cts/kilowatt hour. As a result, the monthly net benefits to the town have skyrocketed, with a record high of over $52,000 for the month of February.”
Shah added, “This has been more than a win-win for the Town of Fairhaven. Fairhaven Wind leases small parcels of land near the wastewater treatment plant and, at virtually no cost to the town, the town has been reaping financial benefits ever since the turbines commenced operation. We are optimistic that these benefits will only increase in the future as Fairhaven Wind is currently implementing upgrades to the turbine’s hardware and software systems to improve annual energy production.”
At a meeting last week, the Board of Selectmen decided not to be quoted in the press release and not to have it be distributed jointly by them with the developer. Selectman Geoffrey Haworth said some of the language was confusing and that he was uncomfortable with the quotes the developer wanted to come from selectmen. Chairman Robert Espindola objected to a quote the developer wanted a selectman to say, calling the turbines a “win-win” for the town. Haworth said the developer could issue a press release on its own without involving them.
On Monday of this week, Espindola said the board hadn’t yet received a copy of the final press release. He said in the earlier version the board saw, he felt some of the information could be confusing. Espindola suggested that residents look at the net metering information provided on the town’s website.
Espindola said the number of complaints about the turbines has gone down since the town negotiated some changes in their operations, including shutting one down or making adjustments during certain wind conditions, including directions. “They’re much less often and much fewer people,” he said of the complaints the town has received. He acknowledged that it is unclear whether people are still bothered by the turbines and have just given up on complaining.
Health Agent Patricia Fowle said the town receives very few complaints anymore. She called them “rare” and said they are “usually from very few people.”
Two members of Windwise, a local group that opposed the wind turbines, did not respond to requests for comment. Louise Barteau said she would want to read the story about it first.
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