FAIRHAVEN – Two commercial wind turbines could be running near Sconticut Neck after next summer, making the town the first Massachusetts community south of Hull to produce wind power.
“The turbines will be running before the end of 2007,” said developer James Sweeney of CCI Energy.
Mr. Sweeney said selectmen this week gave CCI conditional approval to erect the turbines on town land adjacent to the water-treatment facility off Arsene Street, which abuts Little Bay.
The turbines would help defray electricity costs at the plant, which average about $360,000 a year.
Even with conditional approval, CCI must submit a final project plan to the town by the end of the year. The plan must then undergo full review by town boards and their wind consultants.
Town Meeting also must approve leasing the town land before the project can proceed.
Nevertheless, if approved, the 262-foot turbines would place Fairhaven in the lead of wind power production in SouthCoast.
The cooperative wind energy partnership between a private developer and a town is the first of its kind in the area. CCI and its affiliate Community Wind Power are also pursuing agreements in Plymouth, Cohasset and other communities on Cape Cod.
“Fairhaven is the furthest one along,” Mr. Sweeney said.
CCI is currently working on a set of complex agreements that include financing and negotiating the sale of energy to the grid for the approximately $13.5 million project.
“We’ve been working on this project for three years now,” Mr. Sweeney said. “Now we have to do the rest of it.”
Fairhaven Executive Secretary Jeffrey W. Osuch said yesterday he couldn’t comment on the issue until a final agreement is in place.
The Board of Selectmen has been meeting with CCI in executive session for months over the details of the proposal.
The town put the development of wind power at the water-treatment facility plant off Arsene Street out to bid in the summer. ECO Industries LLC, a wholly owned affiliate of Jay Cashman Inc., had also submitted a bid.
Yesterday, Mr. Sweeney said CCI now plans to erect two 1.65-kilowatt wind turbines, smaller than the originally planned 2-kilowatt units, which cannot currently be acquired.
In order to benefit from federal renewable energy tax credits that expire at the end of 2007, CCI is trying to purchase two smaller turbines that have already been sold to another developer.
“All the manufacturers are sold out until 2008, 2009,” Mr. Sweeney said. “That’s why we’re trying to buy two turbines that are already sold.”
The wind turbines would power the water-treatment plant, potentially saving the town up to $425,000 a year in electricity over the next 20 to 30 years, according to the developer. The town would also earn revenue from leasing the land.
CCI would sell the remainder of the energy to the grid.
Two years ago, Town Meeting passed a zoning bylaw that allows wind turbines and gives the Planning Board the authority to grant permits and sets minimum requirements for them.
Since then, the town, which has been exploring wind power for the last decade, started to strongly pursue the idea of leasing land at the water-treatment plant to a private contractor with assistance from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.
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