Wellfleet’s tallest structure is in place behind the White Crest Beach parking lot and it’s going to stay there for a whole year.
It’s a 169-foot tall meteorological tower, and the data it provides will let the town know if this is a suitable site for a wind turbine in the future.
Selectman Mike May is chairman of the town’s Alternative Energy Committee, which has worked for two years before deciding the White Crest Beach site would be best place to test wind energy.
While he’s the chairman, he says he’s “Dumbo” compared to the other members of the committee, who all seem to know more about wind energy, and how to harness it, than he does. Those other members, including Jim Sexton, who has set up a number of windtowers on in private practice, have the “brains” to let May serve as chairman, while they do all the work
The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative paid for the tower, which cost $60,000. This is the state agency that is sponsoring similar projects in other Cape towns, including Orleans and Eastham.
The test tower went up on Nov. 10, with the help of volunteers from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, who are all working on their doctorates, May said.
May did not take part in installing the tower, since he had another commitment. But he came back in time to help with the clean up.
“It was amazing how it went up,” he said. “They came the week before and prepared the ground, and put in the anchors that support it. Then they were waiting for the perfect day to put it up, and that Friday was absolutely beautiful.”
The tower has a four-tiered wind speed measuring system.
The data will be collected for a year to determine if this is the best site for a wind turbine to be located.
“If the data comes back that’s it’s a good place to put a turbine, then the tough part will start,” May said. “We’ll have to change the zoning to put it up.”
Wellfleet owns 200 acres in the woods by White Crest Beach. “Jim Sexton said, ‘If we put one turbine out there, it would be excellent. If we put three or four of them out there, we could pay for the electricity of everyone in town, although it would cost millions to put them up.’ It’s all very exciting,” May said..
“Something has to be done. But it will come down to the will of the people. If the people of Wellfleet want it, then it will happen.”
By Marilyn Miller/ firstname.lastname@example.org
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