2012-08-16 / Letters to the Editor

Wind turbine is not ‘economically feasible’

The Town Council recently received a letter, which stated: “Portsmouth knew they were taking a risk when they purchased an untested turbine from a small manufacturer.” The fact is, Portsmouth did four years of due diligence prior to the purchase of its turbine. The turbine was manufactured by AAER of Canada under a license of the Fuhrlander wind company, one of the largest wind companies in the world. The gearboxes are interchangeable and have a high failure rate.

In Massachusetts there have been noise complaints in Falmouth, Fairhaven,

Kingston and Scituate. The residents of Falmouth equate the noise to that of torture. These four towns all have had turbines installed over the 1.5-megawatt range in the last two years.

The noise complaints range up to 2,500 feet from the turbines. The Fairhaven turbines received more than 400 complaints within a few months after the recent installation. The Wyndham Newport Overlook, a vacation timeshare resort in Jamestown, is only a few hundred feet from the turbine proposal. The Overlook’s timeshare owners should receive abutter notification, as well as the landowner.

In Massachusetts there are issues over which town department handles complaints from wind turbines such as noise, shadow flicker and ice throw. The history of noise complaints is that each local department tells the resident who complains to call another department because there was no method to make a complaint. Ultimately, the local boards of health take the call or complaint through an online form. This type of system should be included in the turbine plans long before the installation process.

The maintenance contract for Portsmouth is more than $30,000 per year after its warranty, and that doesn’t cover major failure parts. Jamestown needs an individual who is qualified to handle day-today issues with the turbine. The Fire Department, Town Hall and the treatment plant will require supervisory control and data acquisition systems. The central processor for the system is located on the wind turbine site.

It appears that the town is looking at the fuel costs that will increase over the next 10 years. The Town Council only needs to look at the dramatic drop of natural gas in the last few years and include the drop of fuel costs.

Recent objections have included safety issues, blade failure and residential property values decreasing. How does the town plan to compensate residents who lose parts of their bundle of residential property rights?

The town should consider in the economic forecast of the wind turbine the curtailment of the operations. In Falmouth, it looks after two years it will have a system in place where the turbines are shut down 12 hours a day from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., and when the wind blows more than 23 mph because that is when it becomes the loudest. The shutdown time for shadow flicker and shut down for ice throw on the bridge needs consideration.

The current Jamestown turbine proposal is not economically feasible at this time.

Frank Haggerty
West Reach Drive
Jamestown

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