HAVERHILL – The city’s attempt to improve the environment is being hurt by Mother Nature herself.
Haverhill’s foray into building windmills to generate power has been stalled because the city is not blustery enough, according to the mayor’s Energy Task Force.
“The wind resources in Haverhill do not appear to be great,” said Jack Bevelacqua, a task force member.
Studies by the Renewable Energy Research Laboratory at the University of Massachusetts Amherst show Haverhill has too little wind to justify installing windmills.
Communities can apply for government grants to build windmills, but to qualify for the money, a city must have strong and consistent winds.
Still, Haverhill’s Energy Task Force, which is trying to reduce the city’s fossil fuel consumption, is not giving up. Task Force Chairman Michael LaBonte said the group is looking into several projects, including using alternative fuels such as bio-diesel for city vehicles, at Mayor James Fiorentini’s request.
The wind project is still alive, but it may have a limited beginning.
“We may make a recommendation to attempt the application anyway,” LaBonte said of asking for the windmill grant.
While a large wind farm may not be possible, smaller turbines may fit nicely in Haverhill. Preliminary locations have been discussed for windmills, among them Golden Hill next to the elementary school there and the city’s old landfill in Bradford.
The grant, which comes from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, provides money to further study if a wind farm is possible, LaBonte said.
“They want you to have enough wind to produce enough power to pay for itself in a reasonable amount of time,” LaBonte said. Haverhill won a $90,000 state grant last year to put solar panels on the roof of the Citizens Center. The panels could shave as much as 13 percent from the Citizens Center electricity bill, saving about $5,200 a year.
Haverhill’s first power-generating windmill was installed last year on the roof of the Covanta Energy trash incinerator at Ward Hill, producing enough power for three homes.
Covanta Energy has said it will consider building several large windmills at the top of the landfill mound next to the incinerator.
The turbines would collect wind blowing along the Merrimack River, where the landfill is located.
More information about the city’s alternative energy team is available on the Internet at havenergy.civiczone.net.
By Jason Tait , Staff Writer
26 March 2007
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