Falmouth Selectmen announced a settlement agreement with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center on Monday night, February 12.
“The board of selectmen voted to have the town manager enter into agreement with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Technology Center, also known as the Mass CEC, which effectively reduces the obligation Falmouth has from about $1.5 million to about $178,000,” selectmen chairman Susan L. Moran said, describing the reduction as “a great result.”
Town Manager Julian M. Suso thanked the board for its support throughout the negotiation process.
“I want to thank town counsel Frank Duffy and Finance Director Jennifer Petit for their participation in negotiating with Mass CEC in bringing this to an appropriate settlement,” Mr. Suso said.
A request for $178,000 will go before Town Meeting in April.
While the details of the settlement were not discussed publicly at the selectmen’s meeting, the topic was discussed at the February 6 finance committee meeting.
“Since we have a contract that does require us to pay renewable energy credits if a court order shuts down the wind turbine, as there now is, this is the limit of our liability on that $1 million loan,” committee member Peter J. Hargraves said at that meeting.
The finance committee unanimously voted to support funding the $178,000 request at Town Meeting.
The board of selectmen also authorized Mr. Suso to contract with a consulting engineering firm regarding the wind turbines. Mr. Suso expects this study will cost between $15,000 and $20,000.
“We’ve had a few discussions regarding the importance of exploring alternatives for future utilization, repurposing and reutilization options for Falmouth’s two wind turbines,” Mr. Suso said. “Pursuant to that, I’m asking the board to authorize my moving forward with a consulting firm to assist in that alternative process.”
This follows building commissioner Rodman L. Palmer’s order to dismantle and remove Wind 1. Following a complaint from Fire Tower Road resident Mark J. Cool, Mr. Palmer determined that Wind 1 was a non-complying structure and requested the town present to him a plan for its dismantling and removal from its present location by May 31.
“This fits in with the requirement we have from Rod Palmer to present a plan of what’s going to happen in terms of what we will do Wind 1,” Selectman Megan E. English Braga said.
Although Mr. Palmer’s order is specific to Wind 1, the study will be comprehensive and consider options for both turbines, Ms. Moran said.
Mr. Suso said this study will not duplicate the work of the original wind turbine study. Noting that the towers were erected before his arrival as town manager, he suggested their location was based mainly on wind speed measurements.
“It did not take a serious look for the potential of locating the turbines on the 300-plus acre property, but most distant from any occupied residency. That is the kind of evaluation that I think begs to be done,” Mr. Suso said.
In addition to examining the cost of relocating the tower, the study will consider potentially repurposing the tower at its current location, perhaps for use as a cellphone tower, Mr. Suso said.
“Hopefully, this will give us time to have some information to be able to put together a plan,” Ms. Braga said. “We need to know the numbers before we consider any sort of plan.”
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