Wind turbine developer CCI Energy LLC, wants two turbines installed by this fall, and the Mass Technology Collaborative has two they need to sell.
CCI President James Sweeney told a standing room only crowd in the town hall meeting room on Wednesday night, April 4, that they are hoping to fast track the process by buying two 397-foot turbines from the MTC. The MTC faces $3,000 a month in storage costs for turbines they purchased in November 2005 after failing to find a buyer, according to Mass High Tech: The New England Journal of New England Technology.
Program Manager Nils Borgen said at the public forum that the MTC purchased the two turbines at a cost of $5.2 million to speed up the wind turbine installation process in Orleans, noting it typically takes 18 to 24 months to receive turbines from a manufacturer. Mr. Borgen said the Orleans project has taken longer than expected, and that instead of waiting for them, the MTC seeks to sell the turbines to the project best positioned to build this year.
Mr. Sweeney said he believed CCI was at the top of the list for receiving the towers. According to the MTC’s December 2006 Request for Information on their website, Orleans still plans to install in late fall 2007.
“Regardless if we get the turbines now or later, it is a good site and turbines will be put there,” said Mr. Sweeney. He was prompted by laughter from the crowd to add that town approval was necessary for the turbine installation.
CCI faces other issues besides where to buy their turbines from. Residents voiced concerns about noise from the turbines and the actual site of the turbines; possible installation places the turbines 750 feet from residences and even closer to the bike path extension. Also, residents noted, fencing will not surround the turbines, allowing people to walk right up to them.
Mr. Sweeney and Mr. Borgen were unable to give exact coordinates on the location, saying that the final decision had not been made. Opponents of the project cited data from other wind turbine projects that said ice was thrown from blades as much as 600 feet.
Representatives from CCI and the MTC said sensors would stop the blades if ice was detected or in the event of high winds.
Resident and Planning Board member Wayne Hayward reminded the crowd that the town has bylaws that determine the maximum decibel levels and setbacks for wind turbines. He said it seemed that all the information cited by CCI and the MTC follows the bylaws.
Aesthetics and property values were also an issue. Resident Henry Ferreira made reference to a statement he said he heard from New Bedford mayor Scott Lang, who said he would not subject New Bedford residents to a turbine project that looked like it came out of a futuristic movie.
“You cannot tell me something out of a Mad Max movie will raise property values,” said Mr. Ferreira, while selectman Michael Silvia quipped back “Unless you are a Mel Gibson fan.”
Residents also expressed concern over the lack of concrete contract and financial terms. Representatives from CCI and the MTC says the town should expect nearly $3 million in total financial incentives over 20 years: $100,000 per year from tax revenue and lease payments and $50,000 per year in savings from discounted energy sold by CCI to the Waste Water Treatment Plant on Arsene Street.
CCI hopes to have an article on the May 5, 2007 town meeting agenda for project approval. The decision on whether to move forward lies with the Selectmen and then Town meeting members. CCI will then have to go through approval with the town Planning Board, FAA and other agencies before the project begins.
At the conclusion of the forum, an informal show of hands showed the attendees were evenly split between support and opposition to the wind turbines.
By Kaisa Cripps
12 April 2007
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