TEMPLETON– The light department will seek money to start providing a green, renewable source of energy that could slim down residents’ light bills.
The source of the energy would be a wind turbine placed on the grounds of the Narragansett Regional Middle High School on Baldwinville Road.
Working with the Green Energy Educational Collaborative, made up of members of the school and community, the Municipal Light and Water Department received a grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative in December 2005 to do a wind study on a ridge behind the Narragansett complex.
The study, which started in January 2006, was based on anemometer recordings and indicated that a 1.5-megawatt wind turbine at the test location could produce nearly 2.5 million kilowatt hours of clean, renewable energy a year, according to information provided by the light department to its customers.
Light and Water General Manager Sean Hamilton said: “This would equal 8 percent of our residential customers’ total kilowatt hours used in 2006.”
The turbine could last between 25 and 40 years.
Over the average life span of 25 years, rate-payers could save $1.1 million, based on this year’s prices.
The most important value would be in using clean, renewable energy, rather than rapidly depleting fossil fuel sources that contribute to global warming, according to school and light department officials.
Mr. Hamilton said that the move to study wind power potential in the area came after he and several other parents spent hours on the football bleachers enduring the sweep of cold wind while watching football games.
“Someone said: “˜We ought to put this wind to work.’ Now we will be using that wind to reduce the cost of power for the town,” Mr. Hamilton said.
Changing the source of energy in town will not be done quickly because it is necessary to make sure every step of the way is environmentally, economically and educationally sound.
“We must make sure that all that should be done, is done,” Mr. Hamilton said.
John LeClerc, middle school technology teacher, helped start the collaborative not only to study the use of wind power and enhance public awareness of environmental issues, but also to promote educational aspects of the program.
“We want to teach students to ask where the power comes from and what happens when humans burn fossil fuels and encourage students to take measures to reduce carbon in the atmosphere,” he said.
He also said future wind-tech students could not only calculate the mechanics and actions of the wind turbines, but could also be introduced to social and environmental responsibility through connections with future collaborative programs.
Mr. Hamilton said state Sen. Stephen M. Brewer, D-Barre, and state Rep. Anne Gobi, D-Spencer, have helped keep the project moving.
Mr. LeClerc credited U.S. Rep. John Olver, D-Amherst, with getting the initial study of sustainable energy started.
William Clabaugh, director of buildings and grounds for the Narragansett Regional School District, said he strongly encouraged pursuing the green, economical energy source.
“That first tower represents independence in more than one form,” Mr. Clabaugh said. “I’d like to see us continue and find a local solution, not a corporate solution to energy needs,” he said.
“We need to break the cycle of having to rely on an oil-based economy. I would like to see a time when we pull up to a charging station and plug in our vehicles to be recharged and learn that we do not need to pollute to get from point A to point B.
“I have profound respect for cities and towns that pursue the use of green energy,” he said. “It needs to start somewhere. Why not here?”
He also suggested looking into other sources of energy beyond wind power. He suggested geo-thermal heating and cooling for schools. This heat source is tapped through deep wells.
The light department will look for funding for the wind turbine program by applying for Clean Renewable Energy Bonds or Renewable Energy Credits for interest-free loans, according to Mr. Hamilton.
By Shirley Barnes
5 June 2007
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding