During the last few weeks, several town officials have been pushing an initiative to make wind power in Hanover a reality.
This May, they’ll ask voters in town to join the campaign.
At their meeting last Tuesday, Hanover Selectmen voted unanimously to submit a grant request to the Massachusetts Technical Collaborative to help fund feasibility studies for wind powered turbines at three sites in Hanover.
The three locations – two of the Department of Public Works’ 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, according to a preliminary study conducted by New York-based wind research and assessment firm Sustainable Energy Developments.
The board also agreed to finalize an Article for this year’s Annual Town Meeting, seeking the money initially needed to finance the new studies. According to Town Administrator Stephen Rollins, the grant money would likely not come in until after the proposed studies are completed.
“What will happen is Town Meeting could vote to approve the money to fund the studies, and then the town would be reimbursed with the grant money,” Rollins said.
The studies, which Rollins said could be completed as soon as this summer, would seek to answer several physical and technical questions town officials have said need to be resolved before the town can move forward with any construction or design. While Selectmen Chairman Alan Rugman said it’s possible – pending the conclusion of the studies – the town could see as many as three wind turbines built as a result of this current initiative. DPW Superintendent Victor Diniak said his department needed a good deal more information before giving the project its final blessing.
“I’m cautiously optimistic about all this,” Diniak said, “but I’ve still got to worry about noise production and any impact to the neighbors of those sites.”
Rugman said if the studies do indeed reveal all three sites to be physically suitable for wind turbines, the board would likely host at least one public hearing before returning to Town Meeting in either the fall or May of 2008 to ask the town to go further with the concept.
“A large part of this is going to depend on how the town feels about it,” Rugman said. “If the study were to come back to us and tell us all three sites are available for wind power, then we would need to have a public hearing to let the townspeople weigh in [on the number of turbines they’d like to see the town construct].”
Sustainable Energy Developments’ preliminary study, which was submitted to the town earlier this month, also revealed that a larger, 900-kilowatt machine could be built in the open space behind Hanover High School. Though Rugman said selectmen are also interested in pursuing that project, as it could potentially provide power to the town’s three largest users of electricity – the high school, Cedar Elementary School and the Hanover Middle School – the town is not yet prepared to take the first steps in determining the physical feasibility of such a project.
“That would be a little further down the road,” Rugman said. “We’re trying to set up a few meetings with the school committee to discuss the idea. Then, if they’re on board we’d go on to the next step. I think [the 100kW machines] will be good examples of what the potential is with this technology.”
“It’s certainly a positive thing for the community,” he added. “In my experience, when the state offers you money to pursue projects of this kind, you’d be wise to take a good look and see if it would be valuable to your community, and not every time is going to be valuable to the community. This one seems as though it’s a very clean commitment, it’s a clean source of energy, I think it’s a good project for the town to get involved in.”
According to the SED 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.
Without grant assistance, the 100kWmachine would cost approximately $402,000 to install, while the larger machine would cost around $2.1 million to build.
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.
By Matt Dunning
28 February 2007
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