A request for proposals for the dismantling of the two town-owned wind turbines is expected to be issued in the next two weeks, Falmouth Town Manager Julian M. Suso said.
Mr. Suso earlier told the select board the town planned on issuing the RFP in mid- to late December, after town staff met with the state agency that loaned the town almost $5 million for wind energy. The state Clean Water Trust loaned Falmouth $4.8 million for one of the turbines.
Mr. Suso said this week the meeting with the Clean Water Trust occurred this month, delayed by the holidays.
“The outcome of that meeting cannot be made public yet, but will be at the appropriate time,” he said.
At stake is Falmouth’s financial liability in paying off the grant.
When the two wind turbines, known as Wind 1 and Wind 2, were installed in 2010 and 2013, neighboring property owners filed multiple lawsuits to permanently shut them down, followed by years of legal battles and town debates. The town borrowed close to $5 million from the trust to erect Wind 2. That agreement states Falmouth would not owe principal or interest as long as Wind 2 remains operational and produces renewable energy. Because Wind 2 has operated in the past, the town’s obligation is reduced to $3.5 million from that $5 million.
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 ZBA’s decision deeming the turbines a nuisance after several neighbors filed lawsuits against the town.
Whether the 400-foot turbines will be used once again to generate electricity or whether they will be disposed of remains a question.
“It really depends on the responses to the RFP and whether there is an appetite to relocate them,” Mr. Suso said.
Falmouth had been working for a few years to find ways to either move the turbines for use elsewhere or dismantle and dispose of them completely. In 2020 the state rejected the town’s request under a specific law, Massachusetts General Law Chapter 25A, that would have made it easier to dismantle the turbines without costing millions of dollars more.
Falmouth received permission from the attorney general’s office to have the turbines dismantled using a certain section of law, Massachusetts General Law Chapter 30, Section 39M, pertaining to contracts for construction and materials. The issue is lack of precedence in the commonwealth for disposing of turbines, according to attorney Christopher Morog, who was hired to help with the process.
Engineering firm Weston & Sampson is compiling a list of regional bidders for similar types of projects.
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