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Wind turbine budget recommended, disposition process ongoing

The town administration is still trying to figure out how to navigate state regulations in order to dismantle the town’s wind turbines.

Falmouth Finance Committee vice chairman Nicholas S. Lowell asked for an update on the disposition of the town’s two wind turbines at the committee’s meeting on Tuesday, January 19. Town Manager Julian M. Suso said the town hired outside counsel to assist with the procurement process.

“What we found was it was not fully clear which portions of the commonwealth’s procurement law applied,” Mr. Suso said. “We continue to break new ground, as no one has ever done this before, and we had conflicting opinions from some differing entities within the state government.”

Working with the Attorney General’s Office, he said, the town has a “verbal understanding” of how to proceed with procurement.

“We’re hoping to take the next step on that, subject to approval by the select board, to go through that unusual procurement process,” Mr. Suso said. “I know we’ve said this before, but we remain guardedly optimistic that we can finally have some reasonable light at the end of the tunnel and a determination in moving forward and ending that chapter in the town’s history.”

The turbines are not running, but they continue to be an expense to the town. The finance committee recommended $35,482 for the renewable energy line item in the town’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget.

Committee member James B. Newman said this figure includes maintenance of the turbines.

“There is minimal maintenance they do on the innards so they remain functional for a buyer,” Mr. Newman said.

Wind 1 was shut down in September 2015 after the zoning board of appeals issued a cease-and-desist order. Wind 2 was shut down in June 2017, after Barnstable County Superior Court Judge Cornelius J. Moriarty II upheld the board of appeals decision deeming the turbines a nuisance. In December 2017, Building Commissioner Rodman L. Palmer ordered the removal of Wind 1 as a noncomplying structure under the town’s Wind Energy System bylaw. Town Meeting approved $2.5 million to begin the disposition of the two wind turbines in November 2019.