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Wind turbine project a maybe for Town Meeting discussion  

FAIRHAVEN – The company proposing to erect two commercial wind turbines on town property says it can present the project to Town Meeting this spring despite recent setbacks.

CCI Energy plans to purchase two Vestas V82, 1.65-megawatt wind turbines from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative for the project at attractive financing, but the agency needs a vote of confidence from town officials on the project before deciding who gets the turbines.

Two other towns are in competition for the turbines and it could take two years for the delivery of more turbines.

Selectmen said no vote on the proposal will be given before they meet with the consultants.

“How many months have we been watching people go back and forth?” asked Selectman Ronald J. Manzone. “I’m not going to rush anything through. We want our representatives to review those facts and give us their opinion. Once we have the facts, we’re going to continue.”

Scheduling conflicts have prevented consultants George Aronson and Barry Sheingold from meeting directly with selectmen. A meeting is being scheduled for March 19.

“Hopefully we will be back on the agenda for the next meeting,” said James P. Sweeney of CCI Energy. “I’m just trying to take advantage of the slot that is open.”

In October, selectmen gave CCI a conditional OK to proceed with a proposal to erect the turbines on town land adjacent to the water-treatment facility off Arsene Street, which abuts Little Bay.

The final proposal for the $7 million project is under discussion now. If selectmen allow the company to proceed, Town Meeting must then approve a 20-year lease of the town land as a final step.

Mr. Sweeney had indicated he would like the turbines running before the end of the year in order to qualify for alternative energy credits.

The proposal calls for two Vestas V82 turbines, each tower measuring 262 feet to the hub. Each rotor is 269 feet in diameter.

The towers would produce electricity for the commercial grid and help power the water-treatment plant.

CCI has estimated the towers could save the town at least $50,000 in electricity costs per year. Powering the facility costs about $360,000 a year.

Additional revenue to the town will come from the land lease, taxes and royalties, for a total of about $150,000, Mr. Sweeney said.

If all approvals are given, Fairhaven would be in the lead of wind power production in SouthCoast. The cooperative wind energy partnership between a private developer and a town is also the first of its kind in the area.

Mr. Sweeney’s latest meeting with selectmen Monday attracted several questions from the audience, including those posed by attorney Ann Ponichtera DeNardis, a candidate for a seat on the board.

Mrs. DeNardis had indicated opposition to the specific project, and offered the town’s former dump as an option, at recent candidates night.

Mr. Sweeney said the turbines wouldn’t be taller than the 600-foot radio tower at the site, as Mrs. DeNardis had said at the candidates night. He also said the site possesses the best wind in town, is near a high energy-consumption facility and connects directly to the grid.

Others asked questions about noise, and the effects on property values with the presence of the turbines in a residential neighborhood.

“We want to make something that is a good thing for the community,” Mr. Sweeney said, adding that two educational public forums will be held as the project proceeds.

The town put the development of wind power at the water-treatment plant off Arsene Street out to bid in the summer. ECO Industries LLC, a wholly owned affiliate of Jay Cashman Inc., also submitted a bid at the time.

Two years ago, Town Meeting passed a zoning bylaw that allows wind turbines and gives the Planning Board the authority to grant permits and sets minimum requirements for them.

Since then, the town, which has been exploring wind power for the last decade, started to strongly pursue the idea of leasing land at the water-treatment plant to a private contractor with assistance from the MTC.

By Joao Ferreira
Standard-Times staff writer

southcoasttoday.com

9 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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