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Wind power idea still a dream

One step forward and one step back is the latest dance for wind power advocates in Arlington.

Proponents of bringing a wind turbine to Brackett Elementary School received support from officials in July to pursue a state-sponsored grant that would bring in $40,000 for a wind feasibility study, with another $5,000 in costs split between town and school budgets.

But two weeks ago, members of Sustainable Arlington learned they had been turned down for the Large Onsite Renewable Initiative program run through the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.

“The wind is still there, so we’ll continue to look into other options,” said Sustainable Arlington member Maria Simoneau, reacting to the news. “I think change is hard, but I’m optimistic we can change.”

In a letter to schools’ Chief Financial Officer Susan Mazzarella, who processed the grant application, Project Manager Jonathan Abe of MTC’s Renewable Energy Trust encouraged the town to consider future funding opportunities offered by the agency.

“The trust received many strong proposals under this competitive grant initiative,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, the number of proposals exceeded the available funding.”

Simoneau said her group has not met since receiving the news from MTC, so members haven’t formulated another plan for moving forward. She said her group remains committed to the idea, however, adding there was no expectation of a quick transition to this alternative form of energy.

“I see it as a process. We’re used to flicking the switch and getting electricity,” she said. “But with the environmental impact and the state of world affairs and the price of oil and natural gas, it just makes a little more sense to look into alternatives as a community.”

In July, School Committee members asked Superintendent Nate Levenson and his staff to work with Sustainable Arlington to look further into the idea of a wind turbine.

But they also urged a cautious process that takes into account feelings of the community, and particularly neighbors to Brackett.

By Jennifer Mann/ Staff Writer