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2 sites look best but wind turbine plan isn't imminent

MARSHFIELD – The wastewater treatment plant on Joseph Driebeck Way and the school complex off Forest Street are the best potential sites for what would be Marshfield’s first wind turbine.

But the wind turbine generator study committee still has some work to do before it recommends one or two locations, members told selectmen last night.

“˜”˜The best economic payback is if you can locate the wind turbine generator inside a large area and consume power,” said member David Carriere, a public works department engineer.

Committee members said having a turbine at the wastewater treatment plant would give the town the biggest bang for the buck, because electricity from the generator could directly supply the plant 24 hours a day.

The turbine could produce enough power to meet about half of the plant’s electricity needs and lower the rates that sewer users pay, Town Administrator John Clifford said.

But turbine committee members say they may not recommend the site because of opposition from local residents.

A turbine on the school site, near the high school and the Furnace Brook Middle School, would also provide direct energy, and it could serve as an educational tool for students, committee members said. However, they also said it would be less useful during weekends, at night and in the summer.

Study committee members will talk with school department representatives for the first time tomorrow.

“˜”˜We would not consider it if the school department thought it was not acceptable,” Carriere said.

The committee also identified three other potential turbine sites: the capped landfill off Clay Pit Road, the new water storage tank off Ames Way and the Rexhame Beach parking lot.

The committee plans to meet a few more times before returning to selectmen with a proposal. They also hope to educate the public about the economic and environmental benefits of wind turbines.

Once a recommendation is made, the town could line up public or private partnerships and seek grants for engineering and construction.

Study committee members say a yearlong wind study may not be needed because existing data from the airport and the old Coast Guard station is probably enough to show that a turbine would be economically feasible in Marshfield.

“˜”˜I feel pretty confident in saying Marshfield topography lends itself to wind-energy technology,” committee member Anita Lord said.

Erecting a turbine in Marshfield has been under consideration since 2003, when the wastewater treatment plant staff made the suggestion.

Selectmen appointed the six-member study committee in the fall. It includes representatives of the public works and planning boards.

Committee members visited wind turbines in Hull and Bourne last month.

Other local communities – Braintree, Norwell, Hanover and every coastal town from Weymouth to Plymouth – are thinking about building wind turbines. Hanover selectmen are pushing for three wind turbines to power the town’s water facilities.

Hull has two large turbines and is considering offshore turbines. Its first, landmark turbine was built on Point Allerton in 2001. The second was built last year atop the capped George Washington Boulevard landfill.

Marshfield Selectman Michael Maresco has said he would not back a turbine proposal if most residents were against it, no matter how much money would be saved.

“˜”˜I think this is great,” Maresco said last night. “˜”˜It’s the right step. We need to be very conscious of what the citizens and residents think.”

“˜”˜I think they’re beautiful,” Selectman Patricia Epstein said, “˜”˜especially because of what they represent.”

By Sydney Schwartz
The Patriot Ledger


27 February 2007