A test site has been selected to help determine whether wind-generated power is a feasible, economical energy source for Hingham.
Municipal Lighting Plant general manager John Tzimorangas said an anemometer will be set up at the capped landfill, probably within the next few months.
Tzimorangas, members of the light board and members of the Hingham Wind Committee have been meeting for months to discuss the possibility of using wind energy in town.
Earlier this month the groups jointly sponsored a “˜”˜Wind 101” forum, to introduce residents to the concept. About 60 people attended the presentation at town hall.
More than a dozen South Shore towns, including Braintree, Cohasset, Hanover, Kingston, Marshfield, Milton, Norwell, Pembroke, Plymouth, Scituate, Quincy and Weymouth, are in exploratory or planning stages of using wind energy. Hull has two turbines and wants to add at least four more.
An anemometer is a device used to measure wind speed. It will be set at the top of a thin pole, about 165 feet tall. It will remain up for 12 months, to collect data from all four seasons.
The landfill was one of three sites considered for testing, the others were the South Shore Country Club and the South Shore Industrial Park.
Sally Wright of the Renewable Energy Research Lab at the University of Massachusetts has assessed the sites and determined they all have the potential to be turbine locations, but do need to tested.
Wind power proponents favored the locations because, while other areas of town such as Turkey Hill would logically get more wind, they did not want the turbines to disturb residents.
If the wind is adequate, a wind turbine could eventually be built at the landfill, but that decision is relatively far off and would not be made without residents’ input, Tzimorangas said.
He said information gathered at the landfill would also apply to the nearby country club.
“˜”˜Measuring from that site gives us a 2-mile radius of good information,” he said.
If conditions there are poor, the industrial park site can be tested, without much delay.
Bearing in mind that finding the right spot could take several attempts and that the town might someday want more than one turbine, the lighting plant set aside $30,000 to purchase its own anemometer and pay for installation and data analysis.
If one site does not work, the anemometer can simply be moved, he said, and the only new cost would be for analyzing the information.
Tzimorangas said the installation project is now out for bid. He said the groups hope that a vendor will be chosen and the anemometer up and running within the next two or three months. Conversations with town officials regarding necessary permits and possible variance needs are under way.
Once a year’s worth of data is collected, it will be determined if there is enough wind, not just to transform into power, but to insure the project will eventually pay for itself.
Hingham would most likely seek a turbine the size of Hull Wind II. A turbine that size costs around $2 million to $3 million, depending on what is required to anchor the unit securely to the ground.
Hull Wind II is expected to generate $1.8 million in renewable energy credits over 10 years.
Tzimorangas emphasized that testing at the landfill – even if the results show it to be a viable spot – does not mean a turbine will be built there.
“˜”˜In the meantime, while (the anemometer) is up, we’ll have more meetings to educate residents and discuss where the best location would be,” he said. “˜”˜We want to be as up front as we can.”
A date for the next public meeting has not been set, but will likely be in June.
Tzimorangas said the lighting plant will soon have a page on its Web site, hmlp.com, dedicated to wind power information, including presentations from the “˜”˜Wind 101” forum.
Residents are welcome to call him with questions.
“˜”˜We want people to be as informed as they can be, we have no intention of doing this in a vacuum,” he said. “˜”˜This is a big thing going on here, and we want people to know.”
By Karen Goulart
The Patriot Ledger
21 April 2007
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