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Wind turbine debate ends in compromise  

Although the “wind chill” factor continued Monday night in the debate over an appropriate height, in the end, selectmen decided to seek bids on three wind turbine heights – 80, 100 and 120 feet. The pursuit of wind turbines for Town Hall and the police station has broken into two camps with Selectman David Dionne listening to one expert, Lighthouse Electrical Contracting, and Rob Rebello and others relying on an unsolicited analysis by Paul Gay of Northeast Windpower Corp.

Newell Thomas of Lighthouse Electric submitted a response to Mr. Gay’s assertions, saying, “The taller the tower is of course better. The taller the tower the more wind you are going to get.”

But testing the wind was another issue. Lucy Keefe of the Alternative Energy Committee said it would cost $30,000 to test the wind over a year and that such studies are more appropriate for something on a commercial scale.

Ms. Keefe suggested the town seek RFPs with bids on the three heights and then do a cost analysis of the respective benefits. Ultimately, it is up to Town Meeting voters, she said, because funding has to be approved at the town meeting in May.

The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative provides grants to spur use of wind power. The grant is about $42,500 no matter what size the town installs. An 80-foot 10K wind turbine costs about $54,000, so the cost to the town is minimal at $12.000. The town must make an initial outlay and apply for a rebate.

There are also other benefits. The wind turbine goes all night, even when town offices are closed. The town could get credits from the energy company for any unused wind power.

Some of the debate on Feb. 26 revolved around how long to wait for more studies of optimal height and location. Mr. Dionne and the alternative energy committee want to nail down the funding at the May annual Town Meeting.

Mr. Dionne sounded reluctant to seek bids on three heights on Monday but in the end voted with the majority. Ms. Keefe, however, referred to Mr. Gay as a “respected contractor.”

There was also some discussion over whether Mr. Gay was just trying to get the bid. Those in contact with Mr. Gay said he is not planning to bid on the turbine. Mr. Newell of Lighthouse Electric is.

Chairman Steve Ouellette said, “There is a big scramble for money,” from MTC. He added, “We need to get this to Town Meeting this year.”

By Peggy Aulisio


1 March 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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