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Wind plan gathers steam  

FALL RIVER – A recently completed study indicates the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant on Bay Street may be an optimal site for a wind turbine that could drastically reduce the electrical bill associated with the site.

Officials with the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative reported their initial findings to the City Council Tuesday night, and are recommending that city leaders take advantage of a grant that will pay for a more extensive feasibility study.

Members of the Hyannis-based collaborative were asked in February to examine the Wastewater Treatment Plant and the city’s water treatment site on Bedford Street as potential locations for a municipal wind turbine.

Greg Watson, vice president of the collaborative’s Sustainable Development and Renewable Energy department, said the “rough study” his department conducted shows that the Wastewater Treatment Plant is the preferred site for the turbine.

Watson explained that the Wastewater Treatment Plant has average wind speeds of about 13 mph, which is about 1 mph less than what is needed for a utility-size turbine. Due to this, Watson suggested using a 250-kilowatt turbine, which he explained would be about 230 feet high.

“The wind speed issue is not a fatal flaw,” Watson explained. “But we are only recommending using a turbine at the Wastewater Treatment site.”

He said the water treatment site would not be a good location for a turbine due to a lack of wind and other environmental concerns.

“The bottom line is that while neither site has a fatal flaw, the Wastewater Treatment Plant seems to make the most sense,” Watson said.

He went on to explain that the city can use a number of different grants to get its turbine up and running for a reduced cost to taxpayers.

A $40,000 grant is available to conduct a feasibility study, a $75,000 grant for design and a $500,000 grant for construction of the turbine.

“By hiring a consultant with the grant money, you can really take a deeper look at the feasibility of this,” Watson said.

Although constructing wind turbines is a costly undertaking for municipalities, Watson reiterated that once it is erected, it is free.

Jim Smith, Fall River’s director of Municipal Services, said the city is interested in the turbine plan because it would likely reduce the $1.5 million electric bill associated with the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

“The administration has every intention to go through the next phase [a feasibility study] of the process,” Smith said. “We are encouraged by this first step.”

City Councilor Linda Pereira proposed setting up a committee to deal with issues associated with the wind turbine project. Her colleague Leo O. Pelletier said the turbine at the treatment plant is a “good idea,” but suggested moving quickly on the project due to the rising cost of steel.

“The longer we wait, there may be a point when it may not be worth doing it,” Pelletier said.

If the feasibility study supports Watson’s findings, a future wind turbine may be one of several to be erected in the Spindle City.

During the presentation Tuesday night, Watson also revealed Fall River’s new school projects are also on a Massachusetts School Building Authority “Green Schools Program” list as potential sites for wind turbines.

By:Gregg M. Miliote, Herald News Staff Reporter

E-mail Gregg M. Miliote at gmiliote@heraldnews.com.

zwire.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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