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Wind tower may alter flights

LYNN – Construction of a 397-foot wind turbine tower proposed for the city’s waterfront could necessitate minor changes in flight patterns around Logan International Airport.

The tower’s tip would penetrate 83 feet into airspace designated for takeoffs and landings around Logan. Water and Sewer Commission officials have asked federal officials to consider an adjustment in landing guidelines for Logan aimed at steering aircraft around the tower.

That request requires a review as detailed as any required for the turbine before its construction is approved. Federal aviation authorities will not be the only contributors to the review.

“The people really driving the bus are the airlines themselves,” Commission Sewer Plant Operations Director Robert Tina said, adding that similar airspace modifications have been requested at airports across the country.

Tina informed U.S. Rep. John Tierney about the airspace request earlier this month and suggested the turbine fits into plans Tierney has endorsed to make the nation less dependent on foreign energy sources.

Water and Sewer officials estimate building a tower capable of converting wind energy into electricity would cost $3 million to $4 million.

The tower’s construction on Circle Avenue off the Lynnway has won City Council support spearheaded by Councilor at Large Loretta Cuffe O’Donnell.

In addition to the Logan flight study, the turbine project must go through at least four other major reviews, including environmental studies and a bird migration study.

The turbine’s construction will make Lynn the first Massachusetts city to erect a wind energy tower. Several towns, including Hull and some on Cape Cod, are building the modern versions of windmills and saving money on electricity costs.

Tina hopes the commission can claim a share of $550 million in federal interest-free energy loans to help pay for the wind turbine. Initial estimates indicate the windmill could save Water and Sewer over $300,000 annually in electrical costs, but Tina thinks that estimate is conservative.

By Thor Jourgensen