Wind Turbines Put Fairhaven in Financ...

Wind Turbines Put Fairhaven in Financial Jepardy

Posted in the Fairhaven Forum

Jack Kelly

Jamestown, RI

#1 Aug 28, 2013

Who Put Fairhaven in Financial Jeopardy?

Posted on August 27, 2013 by WindWise Fairhaven

The original contract protections seemed little more than a fig leaf, but the Amendment appears to tear even that modest protection away. It seems Bowcock’s Board left the town utterly naked to legal threats, without recourse. Apparently, Crotty didn’t dissuade them from doing so, either.

Friends of Fairhaven Wind would have you believe that proponents of shutting the turbines down put the town in financial jeopardy from its litigious friend, Gordon Deane. A close look at the contract, however, tells a very different story.

The 2007 contract was signed by then Chairman, Ron Manzone, and two other Selectmen, Michael Sylvia and Brain Bowcock. The developer was Jim Sweeney, President, CCI Energy, LLC. Much of the negotiation was apparently handled by Jeffrey Osuch and reviewed by Town Counsel, Tom Crotty.

At that time, Sweeney was the proud owner of two turbines, with no place else to put them. The town held all the cards; but instead of a sweet deal; the town seems to have gotten most of the risk and Sweeney got most of the financial reward. This contract was a bad pony out of the gate.

Osuch predicted town revenue based on megawatts (capacity), but the actual contract ties rent payments to megawatt-hours (energy production). Voters weren’t told that turbines seldom produce even 20% of their name-plate capacity. That’s why the town hasn’t realized the $200K-$500K in yearly revenue Osuch projected—and never will. Town revenue will steadily decrease because it is tied to natural gas prices which will continue to fall for several years to come.

Somebody was asleep at the switch.

Section 9g of the contract also required that the turbines “would not exceed 60 dBA at the nearest property line”; but, incredibly, no penalty is defined for violations—financial or otherwise. For comparison, Hanover required Shah to pay $1,000 per day just for project delays.

Osuch told Town Meeting there was funding to restore the land when the lease expired. Though true, he neglected to mention that the amount was $500—not enough to seed new grass. Money is added to this fund based on—you guessed it—energy production. Section 11 adds 3 pennies per 10,000 KWh. This may add up to enough in fifty years or so.

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