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Officials weigh pros and cons of a Fitchburg wind turbine  

A wind turbine could save the city money and help the environment – but it also requires residents to make concessions, said David Streb, the city’s planning coordinator.

“There is a need in this country for alternative energy sources. Fitchburg is blessed with high prevailing wind speeds and a lot of publicly owned land in the north part of the city,” Streb said Tuesday. “I think everybody needs to do their part.”

Streb was responding to a petition submitted by City Councilor at-large Jay Cruz last week that asks the city to consider drafting an ordinance that would allow wind turbines to be built – under a special permit – in Fitchburg.

A wind tower “could do tremendous things for this area, especially when everyone’s up in arms about Unitil,” Cruz said Tuesday, referring to Unitil Corp., the predominant energy company in the city.

Streb said the Planning Board has previously discussed drafting a wind turbine ordinance, which would outline conditions under which the special permit would be granted.

“One of the issues is you’ve got to get the power to the grid. You can’t be too remote,” Streb said.

But neighbors might oppose the hum of the turbine, or their appearance, he added.

In 2004, developer William Hubbard, president of Applied Wind Technology, proposed an eight-turbine wind farm on Caswell Road, but was forced to take down a 170-foot test tower because city zoning law prohibited structures taller than 36 feet in that area.

Mayor Dan H. Mylott said Tuesday that wind power is a good idea, but residents must have a voice in planning.

“Wind power is being used around the world. Any idea needs to have a lot of discussion,” Mylott said. “It’s been tried in Fitchburg twice.”

The wind turbines would need to go in the hills of Fitchburg, the mayor said.

“The hills are very rural. The people who live there don’t want them,” he said. “I think it’s a good idea, but you have to find a place where it’s not going to impact anyone in a negative way.”

Mount Wachusett Community College, in Gardner, erected a 50-meter-tall test tower almost a year ago, said Ed Terceiro, the college’s executive vice president and chief operations officer.

Data from the test tower will help determine the size and type of wind turbine that could be installed, Terceiro said Tuesday.

A wind tower would be good for multiple reasons, he said.

“You’d be producing energy in a sustainable way. It would have no contribution to global warming, no (carbon dioxide) emitted,” Terceiro said. “Number two, the obvious cost of producing energy is far less.”

And thirdly, the college could receive revenue from selling “green tags” and carbon credits, which pollution-producing companies must purchase to offset their pollution.

Terceiro said the college would help Fitchburg research the option of building a wind turbine. He wants the college to develop a “boiler plate” model that others could use.

“There are a lot of hills in Fitchburg. My position on this is that every community should at least pursue this,” Terceiro said. “If we could help, them, we’d be willing to work them. The process can be arduous. If there are opponents to the activity, it doesn’t take a lot of them to bring the project to its knees, to a halt.”

He said he hopes MWCC will have a wind turbine erected within the next 18 months.

Cruz’s petition will appear on the agenda for next Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

By Alexandra Perloe

sentinelandenterprise.com

14 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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