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Wind power up in the air

NORWELL – Selectmen are looking for interested citizens to serve on the town’s new wind power committee.

Committee members will look into the feasibility and benefits of using wind power to generate electricity in the town of Norwell, as well as determine where wind turbines could potentially be placed, which will require a look into zoning bylaws and the aesthetics of neighborhoods. The five-member committee would report periodically to selectmen and to Town Meeting with updates on its research.

Interested residents should pick up an application from the selectmen’s office, 345 Main St. Interviews for the appointments will be conducted next month.

Selectmen seemed to be unsure about how functional wind turbines would be in town, considering that Norwell is landlocked.

“I think that the technology, at this point, is untested in communities like Norwell that have less wind than coastal communities,” Selectmen Chairman Richard Merritt said after the meeting.

“It’s almost 50/50 as to whether it’s a worthwhile thing to do financially,” Selectman John Mariano said.

Merritt said the cell phone tower that was installed in town was more predictable, financially speaking, because Norwell is the landlord and not the owner, where as in the case of wind turbines, the town would have to pay for the construction and installation.

“I think the jury is still out on constructing windmills,” Merritt said. “It’s very expensive.”

If the project were approved, Merritt said the town would have to go out to bond to cover costs, and windmill safety bylaws, as well as other bylaws specific to windmill use, would have to be established.

To date, wind feasibility studies have been conducted at two sites in town, Norwell High School and Stetson Meadows. J.P. Sayler and Associates, an Iowa company in the wind turbine business and a company for which Norwell resident David Brooks works, conducted the studies, as well as wind turbine design studies. Brooks has spoken to town officials about the benefits of using wind, which he has called a sustainable energy source. He had placed three articles on this year’s Town Meeting warrant for consideration, all of which were related to wind turbines, two designated the high school and Stetson Meadows as the sites and one put him in charge of the negotiations with contractors and turbine retailers. All three articles were voted down.

The idea of forming a committee was approved at this year’s annual Town Meeting last month.

By Tessa Fitzgerald
GateHouse News Service

Norwell Mariner

21 June 2007