Despite Judge's Order Falmouth Wind Turbines Operating on Thanksgiving
By: Christopher Kazarian, November 29, 2013
Day O. and Kathie C. Mount of Blacksmith Shop Road were hoping to enjoy an undisturbed holiday yesterday thanks to Barnstable Superior Court Judge Christopher J. Muse’s preliminary injunction ordering the town-owned wind turbines at the Wastewater Treatment Facility be turned off on Thanksgiving.
“It would have been the first Thanksgiving we had in the past three years without the turbines,” Mr. Mount said this morning.
But shortly after 7 AM Mr. Mount noticed the turbine blades were spinning. “My wife thinks it may have woken her up because we were planning to sleep in,” he said.
So Mr. Mount sent an e-mail to wastewater superintendent Gerald C. Potamis, notifying him the machines were still on despite the court order. He received an automatic response that Mr. Potamis was out of the office so Mr. Mount then called the Department of Public Works emergency number. “There was nobody there,” he said. “So I called the Falmouth police non-emergency number and no one answered. If it was a genuine emergency I would have called 911, but I didn’t. I didn’t think it was appropriate.”
While Mr. Mount was attempting to get in touch with any town official to have the turbines turned off, Mr. Potamis was in the process of doing so remotely from New Jersey, where he was celebrating the recent birth of his granddaughter, Olivia. “I noticed he e-mailed me and I went to the computer and noticed the turbines were running,” he said. “Basically I remotely logged on and commanded the turbines to stop operation. It was essentially off by around 8 AM.”
Judge Orders Turbines to Run on 12-Hour Schedule (November 2013)
Selectmen Vote to Increase Operating Hours of Turbines (September 2013)
He then notified town manager Julian M. Suso, who is also on vacation, who in turn alerted selectmen to the situation.
Mr. Potamis also e-mailed Mr. Mount, apologizing for the turbines operating on Thanksgiving and providing his cellphone number in the future. “They can call me because sending e-mails will not get a quicker response because I don’t always check my e-mails,” Mr. Potamis said. “I always answer my phone.”
While Mr. Mount appreciated Mr. Potamis’s response, he noted that this is not the first time the wind turbines were on when they should not have been. “We all make mistakes, but this has happened more than once,” he said. “It just leaves you worrying about whether it is going to happen again.”
He expressed disappointment that this has become a common occurrence, disturbing not only him, but also those who look forward to those few days when the turbines are not running. “People don’t understand how great it is to have a day with them off,” he said. “It sounds silly, but with this whole mess still going on we just look forward to that break. It is important to us psychologically.”
As to what caused the error Mr. Potamis is unsure, although he said he would be conducting an investigation.
He noted that the machines are not intended to be shut on and off as they currently are. Under Judge Muse’s order the turbines run from 7 AM to 7 PM daily except for Sundays and holidays.
As a result of that schedule, Mr. Potamis said, the town has to manually put in a code when it wants the turbines to start and stop on Sundays as well as all future holidays including Christmas and New Year’s Day. “For some reason that code didn’t take on Wednesday night,” he said.
The town did not experience any problems with shutting down the turbines this past Sunday.
But for Mr. Mount and others impacted by the machines that is little consolation for what happened yesterday. “I don’t enjoy complaining, but other people were upset too,” Mr. Mount said. “So that is the situation. It is just disappointing.”