Members of the Alternative Energy Committee paid a visit to the School Committee Wednesday, to discuss the various energy-saving improvements it is looking into for the schools. Having been before all the other boards in town, the committee felt it was time to share its knowledge with the School Committee and hopefully get it on board with its initiative.
The three schools are a large consumer of electrical power in town, with the middle-high school using more electricity than any other building. To help cut back on costs and be more “green,” the Energy Committee has begun looking into harnessing the power of the wind through turbines. Its thought is that one large turbine could be erected at the Recycle Transfer Facility, and a second smaller turbine could be erected at the high school, both of which could save the town a lot of money. In these difficult fiscal times, saving money where possible would be a plus.
Energy Committee member Jim Shipsky has gathered information about the town’s kilowatt usage, and found the three schools cost roughly $249,000 last year. If a wind turbine was erected at the Recycling Transfer Facility, it could generate power, which the town could sell back to National Grid, its energy provider, which would help cut down on costs. If a second smaller turbine was erected at the middle-high school, which could generate power specifically for the building to use, the utility cost for the school budget could be greatly reduced.
Energy Committee member Mike Bliss explained the smaller second turbine, a vertical access wind turbine, also referred to as an “egg beater,” could be built at the school because less land is required for one to be erected. It is much different from the larger turbine, which would only generate electricity for the purpose of selling it back to National Grid and making money.
“There’s only one operating in the whole country and it’s in Wisconsin, but it is an option we have,” said Bliss of the smaller turbine, adding it will be another year before the committee has enough information to determine whether the smaller turbine is feasible. The town is currently in the process of monitoring the wind at the RTF to determine whether the larger turbine would work well in that area.
School Committee member Alfred Slanetz said he would like to see wind initiatives integrated into the classroom. If turbines are erected, he would like to see students become involved in some way and learn about the importance of conserving energy and how the turbine works.
Bliss said currently, the committee has senior Blain Morin working as an intern, and they have encouraged him to pursue a couple of different projects. They would like to have him collect the data to determine how much energy the schools use on an hourly basis, as well as have him write up and design a sign which could be hung near the turbine as an informational tool. It could help residents understand what it is and how it works, and what the benefits of having a turbine are.
School Committee Chairman Adrienne MacCarthy commended the committee for its work. “We know we are a large consumer, but your work will not only benefit us, it will benefit the whole town,” she said.
Residents interested in learning more about wind power will be able to view a slide show and have their questions answered at upcoming meetings of the Alternative Energy Committee. The committee will meet Nov. 2 from 7 to 8 p.m. at Trueblood Hall at the First Parish Church, and Nov. 8 from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Second Congregational Church.
By Samantha Brown/ email@example.com
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