The Town Council has agreed to fund a wind study at the local dump to see if the location is right for a proposed power-generating windmill.
At the meeting Monday night, the council unanimously approved the use of $2,000 to buy testing equipment and begin a wind speed study, which could take up to a year.
In recent months, Town Councilor Glenn Shwaery, local environmentalist Bob Sheppard and University of New Hampshire scientist Cameron Wake have been working together as an energy committee to find ways the town might cut down on energy consumption and save money. The group also wants to look into constructing a small wind turbine at the Kittery Solid Waste Facility to provide the complex with power.
Sheppard, who is the Deputy Director of the Portsmouth-based group Clean Air , Cool Planet, said he was interested in building a turbine not just for the environmental benefits, but to save money as a taxpayer. His organization has helped other cities, like Keene, NH, get started with similar projects and although many wind turbine projects have met resistance, others, like the one in Hull, Mass., have huge support.
“It’s a small amount of money to test for what could be an exciting opportunity for this town,” he said.
The wind speed test will be conducted by Wake throughout the winter and possibly longer. The testing equipment, which is fairly small and is run on AA batteries, will be put on a tower atop one of the solid waste facility buildings. Once the test is complete, the equipment can be used again, he said.
Sheppard said the New England region, with its proximity to the mountains and the ocean, is well suited for wind turbines. Wake added the elevation of the dump is higher than the surrounding area and could be a good location for a turbine.
Councilor Judy Spiller asked if there had been any research done on wind turbines and how they affect birds. Wake said he did not know now, but his lab at UNH would look into that question soon during a study for a possible wind turbine on Appledore Island.