Hingham residents don’t have to look far to see wind at work. Their northern neighbor Hull, after all, is a Massachusetts leader in harnessing the renewable energy source.
Looking at Hull’s success and studying Hingham’s potential, the Hingham Wind Committee and the general manager of the town’s Municipal Lighting Plant think the time is right to bring wind-generated power to town.
Last night, more than 60 people attended a forum at town hall to learn about the basics of wind energy and gain some insight into Hingham’s early planning for a turbine.
Kevin Bulman of the municipal light board said this was the first in a series of meetings to inform and involve the public.
Sally Wright of the Renewable Energy Research Lab at the University of Massachusetts presented an overview of how wind energy works and the need for renewable energy sources. She said wind energy is growing in popularity in Massachusetts because wind is the most abundant renewable energy source.
More than a dozen South Shore towns, including Braintree, Cohasset, Hanover, Kingston, Marshfield. Milton, Norwell, Pembroke, Plymouth, Scituate, Quincy and Weymouth, are in the exploratory or planning stages of using wind energy. Hull has two turbines and wants to add to that figure.
John Tzimorangas, general manager and president of the Hingham lighting plant, said six potential sites for a wind turbine have been identified in town, but he focused on three last night.
He said proponents were looking for town-owned sites where the wind would be adequate and where a turbine would not disturb residents.
Although he stressed that it was not a “˜”˜preferred” site, Tzimorangas said there is definite interest in putting a turbine on top of the capped landfill.
The Pinehills industrial area has also been mentioned, as well as South Shore Country Club.
Tzimorangas said these three locations have been mentioned in preliminary conversations with the planning and appeals boards and the building department.
Wind committee member Clayton Handleman said places like Turkey Hill and the harbor islands get a lot of wind, but turbines there could be unpopular with residents.
On the other hand, while the landfill and industrial park may not be as windy, they are far from residential areas, he said.
“˜”˜We want a project that harmonizes the town as a whole,” Handleman said.
Wright, who was asked to assess the potential sites, said research shows that all have the potential to be turbine locations. The next step would be to actually measure the wind, she said.
That would entail installing an anemometer, a device that measures wind speed. The anemometer would be put atop a thin pole about 165 feet tall. Typically, wind data is collected for 12 months.
Tzimorangas said the light board has set aside $30,000 to buy an anemometer. If the town owns an anemometer and uses it to test a site that proves unsuitable, it will be able to expedite the testing of other sites, he said.
Responding to a question from the audience about how to pay for a turbine, Tzimorangas said there would be many options to consider. Stressing the word “˜”˜probably,” he said the best way would probably be through bonding, with repayment being done with rate-payer revenue.
“˜”˜But that’s a long way off,” he said.
Tzimorangas said Wright’s presentation will soon be made available on the lighting plant’s Web site, hmlp.com.
By Karen Goulart
The Patriot Ledger
5 April 2007
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