Light Department Manager Diane Dillman reported to the town’s Municipal Light Board in August that the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative has received a ruling from the Federal Aviation Administration that ruled out constructing wind towers on Asnebumskit Hill.
The FAA told MTC that the height of 1.5-megawatt turbines so close to Worcester Airport would not be allowed.
As far as Paxton is concerned, Dillman said, that ruling puts an end to the hope of becoming a partner in a wind turbine project on the hill.
MTC, an organization funded with money from the Renewable Energy Trust, conducted a feasibility study and found the site was promising for a turbine of that size. The study didn’t investigate the economics of smaller towers, which would not meet the need to provide substantial power and cover the cost of constructing the turbine.
The Renewable Energy Trust is funded by public power company funds. Small private municipal power companies like Paxton’s do not contribute to the trust. Dillman said the study was allowed in a town with a municipal light department because the site seemed a prime one for providing wind power.
“Our feeling is that somebody could investigate a smaller turbine, but it doesn’t, unfortunately, meet our need to build something of that magnitude to serve the low-income needs of the community,” said Martha Broad of the MTC.
Asnebumskit Hill is already the site of several radio and cell towers.
The original study was funded entirely by the MTC, and began with an anemometer perched on a radio tower on the hill in June 2003 to measure wind speed and frequency. That device took wind measurements from the hill for nearly a year, but after only a few months, it became clear the site was “robust,” Dillman said.
A town-owned parcel on the hill was not deemed fruitful enough for the economics of constructing a tower, Dillman said.
The only site on the hill that would provide the strength of prevailing winds is now under litigation (see related story, page 13). Paxton hoped to partner with potential buyer the Teresian Carmelites of Worcester to construct the tower and purchase some power from it.
Any investigation of building smaller towers that might meet the FAA’s restrictions would have to be paid for by the town, as funding opportunities with MTC have now dried up, Dillman said.
“There’s nothing to investigate further right now,” she said.
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