Inch by inch, the town of Hanover seems to be getting closer to joining the ranks of communities in Massachusetts hopping on the wind power bandwagon.
Selectmen last week agreed in principal to support an initiative to construct an electricity-producing wind turbine on one of three Department of Public Works-operated sites outlined in a feasibility study completed by New York-based wind research and assessment firm Sustainable Energy Developments.
According to the study, two of the DPW’s well fields – at Riverside Drive and Broadway – as well as the water treatment plant at the department’s main office on Pond Street could feasibly accommodate a 105-foot, 100-kilowatt wind turbine. Without grant assistance, the machine would cost approximately $402,000 to install. The study also revealed that a larger, 900-kilowatt machine could be built in the open space behind Hanover High School. Without grant assistance, the larger machine would cost around $2.1 million to build.
Last Tuesday (Feb. 13) night, Selectmen Chairman Alan Rugman said he’d support constructing one of the smaller machines, if for no other reason than to show Hanover residents that wind power can work for the town.
“I believe we should do something, and I believe that one small sight would give us the experience and the educational process that the town’s going to need,” Rugman said. “It’s going to show them that we’re saving money, and that we can successfully do this.”
DPW Superintendent Victor Diniak said Rugman met with DPW officials last week to discuss the proposition of putting a wind turbine on one of the three sites listed in the report. According to Diniak, the board voted in favor of further research into the feasibility of installing a turbine. Diniak said the board would likely support constructing a turbine at the DPW’s Pond Street headquarters, pending further studies.
“There’re an awful lot of questions that still need to be answered,” Diniak said. “We’ve got to determine what the noise production would be, what the impact would be on neighboring residents, what the impact on the water supply would be. There’s a lot we don’t know yet, but from what we’ve seen, we support the idea.”
At Town Meeting, selectmen plan to endorse an article seeking funds for further feasibility study, specifically looking at one of the four sites listed in the SED report. Exactly which site would be examined, as well as how much money the article would request, had not been finalized when the Mariner went to press on Tuesday.
According to the study, it would take the town approximately 12 years to pay off the 100kW machine. However, after the payback period, the turbine could produce an average savings of more than $19,000.
At an initial cost of $1.6 million, it would take nine years for the 900kW turbine to begin saving the town any money on electricity. However, after the installation costs of the turbine are paid, the town could save an average of more than $216,000 a year on electricity. Those figures are calculated assuming the town qualifies for grant money available through the Massachusetts Technical Collaborative’s Large Onsight Renewables Initiative (LORI) solicitation. SED has stated the town would be eligible for separate grants of $500,000 and $225,000 to pay for the 900kW machine and the 100kW machine, respectively.
According to the study, the town could potentially save close to $3.5 million in electricity costs over a period of 25 years, including the time it would take to pay off the costs of both machines.
Selectman David Flynn said while erecting a wind turbine at one of the DPW sites would be a significant historical milestone for the town, any savings produced by a 100kW machine would pale in comparison to those produced by the larger turbine. However, Flynn said, the possibility of putting a turbine at the high school could depend heavily on the school department’s tentative plans to construct a new high school.
“Obviously, the savings at the school site are potentially much bigger,” Flynn said, “but my understanding is the school department’s going to want to wait until they’ve figured out what they’re doing about a new high school.”
By Matt Dunning
21 February 2007
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