SHUTESBURY – The proposed location of the wind turbine that the town would put up as its next renewable-energy project could be complicated by Shutesbury’s communications tower bylaw.
Selectmen will meet with the Energy Committee Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall to determine if the turbine can be sited on an open field behind the Town Hall building on Cooleyville Road.
The complication, said Town Administrator David Dann, is that officials are unsure whether the tower bylaw, put in place primarily for dealing with potential wireless towers, could scuttle the 120-foot turbine.
According to the town bylaws, towers are “not limited to wireless telecommunication towers,” and no exemption would be granted for a wind turbine.
If the tower does fall under this bylaw, Dann said officials may have to seek a special permit from the Planning Board or a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals.
The bylaw encourages towers on public land, but also away from environmental, historical and visually important areas in town as defined by the Master Plan.
The timetable for getting the tower built will also depend on how much bids come in at and how much money the town receives from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. The town has only appropriated $15,000 and is counting on this additional money, which largely comes from residents who have signed up for a green energy program in which they pay higher utility bills.
When built, the $50,000 tower, set on a concrete base, is expected to provide 40 percent of the electricity for the Town Hall and save the town $1,600 a year.
The wind turbine would be the town’s second renewable-energy project following on the heels of the solar panels that line a portion of the roof at the elementary school.
Though these aren’t designed to power the entire school, just as a showcase for renewable energy, they have provided close to 400 kilowatt hours of power since going on line in September.
According to Soltrex.com, which monitors the panels and provides information on its Web site, the power generated so far has reduced carbon dioxide releases by 357 pounds.
By Scott Merzbach
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding