Marshfield – On the recommendation of the Wind Turbine Generator Study Committee, the town will commission a more detailed study on the feasibility of Marshfield turning to wind power as an energy source at four sites.
The four locations are the wastewater treatment plant in Brant Rock, the capped landfill off Clay Pit Road, the site of a new water storage tank off Eames Way and at the Marshfield schools complex on Forest Street. The Rexhame Beach parking lot was formerly on the list, but has been dropped.
“We have four locations, and we’d like to proceed with wind tower studies,” Department of Public Works engineering assistant and study committee member David Carriere said.
Selectmen gave the go-ahead Monday night to the study committee to pursue funding for a feasibility study through the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. The collaborative works in association with the Renewable Energy Research Laboratory at UMass-Amherst to collect scientific data and determine whether wind-fueled electricity-producing turbines are feasible at specific sites.
A meteorological tower would be used to collect the wind data at each site, and a formal engineering study and economic analysis would be part of the process.
Carriere said a private company, Patriot Renewables, LLC, a subsidiary of Jay Cashman Inc., has expressed interest in Marshfield’s plan as a possible funding partner. Patriot Renewables is the company behind the proposed South Coast Wind Project in Buzzards Bay, and Jay Cashman Inc. was general contractor for the state’s first state-owned, commercial-size wind turbine at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay.
Carriere said it could take 10 to 12 years to recover the cost of building a wind turbine at the storage tank site, or it could take six years with a private company as a partner due to potential tax breaks for the company. Such an agreement would require a contract, and selectmen said town counsel would be asked to review any potential agreements. Carriere said Massachusetts Technology Collaborative also provides legal assistance.
Carriere said it’s possible that the wind turbine would not have to be as tall as originally proposed. He said a 140-foot wind turbine similar to the wind turbine at Massachusetts Maritime Academy might be sufficient. The Department of Public Works originally proposed a 260-foot wind turbine in July 2006 for the wastewater treatment plant site in Brant Rock.
Selectman Michael Maresco said he supports wind turbines and understands the economic benefits for the town, but recommends that a formal meeting be scheduled with opponents of the wind turbine in Brant Rock.
“I’m concerned about the folks down there,” he said.
The impact on property values due to the proposed turbine’s proximity to their homes and worries about noise are the primary concerns for about 200 Brant Rock and Green Harbor residents who signed a petition in opposition.
Wind Turbine Generator Study Committee member Julie Forsyth, representing the Brant Rock Village Association, said the Brant Rock wind turbine would be 550 feet from the nearest neighbors, and also noted that a wind turbine could impact Forest Street area residents, who would be about 1,300 feet away.
Selectmen chairman Patti Epstein asked if neighbors opposed to the first wind turbine in Hull before it was built in 1993 still express the same concerns, asking first about noise.
Carriere said individual opinions about the noise impact of a wind turbine would vary. He compared the noise level to that produced by a car driving along a main street at 30 mph, and said that could bother a light sleeper.
Carriere said he couldn’t say whether the Hull wind turbine had an impact on property values, but that other concerns such as blade icing are real but can be addressed to keep people safe. For example, he said, it could be a matter of shutting down the blades until they have been de-iced.
Selectman Katie O’Donnell suggested that town boards might want to look into zoning for wind turbines because no such zoning exists. She said the town might see more individuals expressing interest in private wind turbines on their property due to their rise in popularity.
An implementation committee will be formed to assist with the study and for the engineering and construction. The Wind Turbine Generator Study Committee expires June 30. Carriere said its members are interested in continuing to serve, although the implementation committee would be also need members who specialize in different trades.
By Kathryn Koch
GateHouse News Service
8 May 2007
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