Christy’s of Cape Cod is finding a convenient truth about wind power: it can help pay the bills.
As co-chairman of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound and with expensive real estate on Yarmouth’s Great Island, convenience store magnate Christy Mihos has often been in the cross-hairs of the supporters of the Cape Wind Associates project for Nantucket Sound.
“I do believe in wind power,” Mihos said in a phone interview Tuesday morning.
To prove that, Mihos has plans to install wind turbines at nine of his 15 Cape locations, including the Christy’s overlooking Hyannis Inner Harbor and at the corner of Route 28 and Falmouth Road at the Hyannis/Yarmouth border.
“It’s just basically another way of trying to decrease our usage for utilities,” the costs for which he described as a “runaway freight train… especially here on Cape Cod.”
The Ocean Street store is already in the permitting process for three small turbines to be placed atop the canopy over the gas pumps. According to Mihos, it will be 25 feet from the ground to the top of the turbine. This is the first application under the town’s newly adopted wind generation ordinance, approved by the town council last month.
Mihos estimated that the $50,000 to $60,000 installation at each location will pay for itself in about eight years.
“It isn’t what you usually look for,” he said, later adding, “It’s not the greatest financial return that I’ve seen.”
The three turbines would combine for about 7,900 kilowatt hours annually, good enough to power a home, but only a portion of the convenience store’s yearly draw.
Mihos said that the stores are picking up the entire cost for the installations, and haven’t looked to grants through the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative or other sources.
“We’re not doing this because we think we’re going to get the government to pay for it or get 26 square miles of Nantucket Sound,” Mihos said.
Attorney Eliza Cox of Nutter, McLennan and Fish, appeared before Barnstable’s Site Plan Review Committee on June 28 to present the plan.
More than anything else, town officials were concerned about the structural integrity of the canopy over the gasoline pumps, which will serve as the base for the three turbines
“Usually when a canopy is designed, it’s designed for the canopy,” Building Commissioner Tom Perry said. “It’s usually done with little fudge factor.”
Mihos told the Patriot that the canopies have been checked out and are more than adequate for the job.
“They’re not large at all and work aesthetically,” he said of the turbines.
Lt. Don Chase of the Hyannis Fire Department said that the sensitivity of the suppression system could cause a problem if there are vibrations. Unlike most suppression systems, the one at the Ocean Street location is mounted on the columns that support the canopy, but Chase said if the idea is to install turbines at other locations, additional attention will be given to canopy-mounted suppression systems.
The vortex ring design is engineered to run quieter than background noise levels. Cox told Site Plan Review that with roads on either side of the property, the operation should not be heard.
“Hopefully we’ll have the first one installed the first or second week of August,” Mihos said, but acknowledged that some permitting still needs to be worked out.
Site Plan Review approved the project for the next level of review. The project requires appearances before the planning board for a special permit and the Hyannis Main Street Waterfront Historic District Commission for a certificate of appropriateness.
By David Still II
17 July 2007
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