WESTPORT – Selectman David P. Dionne discounted an evaluation of a proposed wind turbine behind Town Hall as overtly negative and politically motivated.
A backer of renewable energy resources, Mr. Dionne said the independent report by local wind turbine distributor Paul Gay described in Tuesday’s Standard-Times is the handiwork of a political faction that is bent on stymieing progressive ideas.
“This is all part of the Claude Ledoux wrecking crew,” Mr. Dionne said of the former selectman. “There has been a lot of destruction out of that crew, from this to (the firing) of former Police Chief Mike Healy to this current conservation to-do.
“No one asked him to do a study. I did call him to ask him if he could give us some technical guidance or if he wanted to bid on the turbines, but he said he didn’t want to. So what is he up to?”
Mr. Gay recommended that the proposed wind turbine stand 120 feet high, compared to the 80 feet recommended by the town’s consultant, and said the parking lot area behind Town Hall is a poor choice for the turbine’s location.
Mr. Gay also questioned the financial benefits of the wind turbine, asserting that all the power it generates would be consumed by Town Hall with none left for the grid to earn energy credits.
Westport would be the first city or town in the state to supply power to its municipal operation with wind power. A second turbine is being considered for the police station.
The turbines are expected to cost $54,000 apiece, but, according to a report from the town’s Alternative Energy Committee, they would pay for themselves in four years or less.
The cost of the wind turbines could be partially reimbursable with a grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the committee learned. Grants of more than $42,000 per wind turbine are available.
“What I did had nothing to do with Claude Ledoux,” Mr. Gay responded. “I just stated the facts as I saw them. There is nothing political about what I did and my motives were not political. I am just trying to get scientific information out there for the benefit of the community.”
Mr. Ledoux was taken aback by Mr. Dionne’s remarks.
“That is so cheap, it is hard to come up with words to respond,” said Mr. Ledoux, a onetime member of the Conservation Commission.
“It’s well known I have never fallen for the Dionne grandstand antics,” Mr. Ledoux said. “The windmills are another good example of pandering to the electorate by promoting the spending of public funds on expensive, popular projects without having done the necessary homework – height of Town Hall – to ensure wise and best use of public resources.
“There is a need for wind power and I endorse it unquestionably. I had nothing to do with Paul’s evaluation. But after reviewing its engineering analysis, one can only conclude its recommendations would result in an optimal installation. A credible, well-researched installation, of which Westport could be proud and assured our public funds were put to the best use possible.”
Mr. Dionne insisted that an analysis for the town shows that the long-term gains are greater for the town with an 80-foot tower – output versus amortization of the original investment – than with Mr. Gay’s recommended 120-foot wind turbine.
“Look, Rob Rebello is Claude Ledoux’s stooge on the Board of Selectmen,” Mr. Dionne said. “He brings all these things in and it is all Claude’s writing. These guys are destroyers, not builders.”
Mr. Rebello retorted that the written materials he presents, the issues he raises and the questions he asks are all his own work.
“Claude doesn’t help me with this. This is my own work. I thought it out and wrote it out,” Mr. Rebello said. “They are insulting my intelligence to say otherwise. I am a college graduate (St. Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine, with a bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences). I know how to put things together and present them.”
Mr. Rebello also objected to any characterization that he is opposed to erecting a wind turbine to provide electricity to Town Hall.
“I asked that question about the height of Town Hall because I went to the symposium on wind power and learned that it is critical to know how high obstructions are,” he said. “I want to make sure the wind turbine is in the area that will give us the most bang for the buck. Being the first municipality in the state to do this is a feat in and of itself, but let’s be the first to do it and do it right.”
By Joseph R. LaPlante
Standard-Times staff writer
23 February 2007
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