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Wheels begin to turn for windmill at school


By Tom Gorman/ tgorman@cnc.com
Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A wind turbine could one day provide electricity for one of Braintree’s public schools.
Superintendent of Schools Peter Kurzberg told the school committee on Monday that officials are exploring utilizing wind power as a way to stave off increasing energy costs.
The turbine would be similar to the two used in Hull and the one that towers over the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) office near the Southeast Expressway in Boston, Kurzberg explained.
“We are looking into the possibility that wind power could play a role in conserving energy and generating electricity,” he said. “We will see if it is something worth pursuing.”
The superintendent said no site in town has been considered at this time.
“The location has yet to be determined, (and it will be) one not offensive to neighbors,” he said.
Officials have contacted Congressman Stephen Lynch’s office to determine what support there would be at the federal level for such a pilot project.
Kurzberg explained the idea came about because of the number of seemingly successful wind turbine projects that have popped up in the area over the past few years.
“Hull has built their second windmill, and the IBEW has one,” he said.
This spring, Hull’s second $3 million, 300-foot tall wind turbine was erected in a landfill off George Washington Boulevard and is generating about 1.8 megawatts of electricity, enough to power an estimated 750 homes.
That town’s first wind turbine at Hull Gut near the high school was built in 1985. It provides enough electricity for about 250 homes.
All told, Hull town officials say both turbines save the municipality’s light department about $500,000 annually. The town is considering adding four more.
About a dozen other communities in the Bay State, including Weymouth, Cohasset, and Scituate, are considering wind power.
Supporters say it is a low cost, efficient, clean, and renewable source of energy.
A large-scale proposal, the Cape Wind project, has drawn opposition. This project involves placing scores of wind turbines off Nantucket Sound.
Hull’s wind turbines were mostly funded by the town.
The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative provides grants and loans to communities and businesses to study and build wind turbines.
Since 2001, the collaborative has provided some $206 million.
Before a wind turbine is built, a proposed site must be studied.
Through the collaborative, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Renewable Energy Research Laboratory will conduct a one year study.
The lab erects towers with anemometers to measure wind in an effort to determine the feasibility of a site.
Kurzberg said the idea of the plan would be to have a wind turbine generate enough electricity to power a school building.
“This is something that is certainly worth investigating to determine if it’s financially feasible,” he said. “What will come of it, we don’t know. It seems like a good idea for us.”