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After a decade of two wind turbines standing inoperable on the wastewater treatment plant, the town is moving forward with getting them dismantled. The Falmouth Select Board voted at its meeting Monday to hire a consultant to determine how much it would cost to get rid of the turbines, and then create the necessary bids to make that happen.
The Falmouth Select Board on Monday, February 22, approved hiring a consultant to assist with the creation of bid documents necessary for the disposition of the two wind turbines at the wastewater treatment plant site on Blacksmith Shop Road. Attorney Christopher W. Morog told the board that Massachusetts General Law allows for the dismantling and disposal of the turbines under one 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.
Vineyard Wind LLC’s decision to push back a permitting review of the $2.8 billion offshore wind farm it plans to build near Massachusetts could delay the project by more than a year, under a ruling by the U.S. Interior Department.
“I remain extremely frustrated with the state, on the one hand, saying we’re going to have to pay back the $3.5 million dollars, but on the other hand saying we’re not going to help you,” board member Douglas H. Jones said. “The state agencies are not communicating with each other or are speaking from two sides of their face at the same time. I understand that they are different state organizations, but the fact that the DoER [Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources] isn’t willing to allow us to use the 25A procurement law is just unbelievable.” Mr. Jones said the decision has tied the town’s hands, leaving it with no viable way to move forward with disposal of the turbines.
After a decade of issues regarding the two wind turbines that stand at the wastewater treatment plant, the town is no closer to seeing them dismantled. The town has been working to find ways to either move the turbines for use elsewhere or dismantling and disposing of them completely. The state recently rejected the town’s request under a specific law that would have made it easier to dismantle the turbines without costing millions of more dollars.
Mayflower Wind recently got approval from the Falmouth Conservation Commission to conduct geotechnical boring investigations at two beach parking lots to eventually install underground cables. The company will appear before the Select Board on Monday to get permission to conduct the tests on town property.
Jacquart explained that when the university acquired the turbine in 2012, hopes were high for an inexpensive service contract while its power output would equate to roughly one percent of the campus energy usage. He said the turbine would frequently break down and generate less and less electricity every time it broke, eventually costing the school more money to maintain it than it was generating.
Cathay Bank, which issued a $5 million loan for the wind turbine, said in a federal lawsuit filed on July 24 that Kingston Wind Independence received the settlement after pursuing arbitration against the turbine manufacturer and the bank wants to be paid back for its outstanding balance, $1.8 million.
Based on sound level testing done last year for the Scituate Wind turbine, results indicate the turbine is in compliance with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Noise Policy.
“The allegations made by the Massachusetts Democrats are unfounded and uninformed. In reality, the Department of the Interior carries out the appropriate environmental review of impacts of all energy projects – renewable and non-renewable—based on the following: the law, the facts and often after extensive public input.”
The Independence wind turbine stopped turning permanently in 2019, putting an end to the complaints about noise and flicker that plagued it for seven years.
With several controversial articles on the warrant, the Board of Selectmen had its chance to make Special Town Meeting recommendations a week after the Finance Committee voted its recommendations.
The committee also recommended appropriating $2.5 million to fund the disposition of the town’s two wind turbines. “The $2.5 million is to dismantled and disassemble,” Town Manager Julian M. Suso said. “It is not even to relocate them at this point.”
The legal battle over the Independence wind turbine continues, and the program that provides residents with opportunities to pursue renewable energy projects at their homes is a casualty, at least temporarily.
This RFQ is part of the town’s effort to relocate and operate its two Vestas 1.65-megawatt, V-82 wind turbines with 80-meter-tall towers from the wastewater treatment plant site on Blacksmith Shop Road to an alternative location outside Falmouth. In June, Mr. Suso said he expected to issue an RFP regarding the wind turbines within 30 days. The matter proved more complicated than expected.
Interior ordering supplemental study of Vineyard Wind project The Trump administration cast the fate of the nation’s first major offshore wind farm into doubt by extending an environmental review for the $2.8 billion Vineyard Wind project off Massachusetts.
“Comments received from stakeholders and cooperating agencies requested a more robust cumulative analysis,” BOEM spokesman Tracey Moriarty said in an email. “Considering such comments, and taking into account recent state offshore wind procurement announcements, BOEM is expanding its cumulative analysis of projects within its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to also include projects that have been awarded power purchase agreements, but may not have submitted Construction and Operations Plans (COPs), and potential scenarios based on state procurements that are expected to be awarded.”
The Alchemy Farm Neighborhood Association filed a complaint on the commercial use in their midst last fall, which prompted Falmouth Building Commissioner Rod Palmer to issue a cease-and-desist order for the solar operation on Feb. 6. Palmer also issued an order to dismantle a pole barn on the property.