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DEDHAM – Installing a wind turbine proposed for Fairbanks Park may be only the first step in a plan to make the town a center for renewable energy.
Town Administrator William Keegan this week, during hearings over a proposal to power the Rustcraft Road athletic field lights with a 90-foot high windmill, reaffirmed his desire to see the town use wind power to bring its energy bill down.
“Wind power is becoming more and more available to save electricity and provide a renewable energy source,” Keegan told the Zoning Board of Appeals. “If this does work, we will look to place (turbines) at other places around town.”
Yesterday Keegan said athletic fields at Memorial Park and facilities at town schools could be future sites where wind power might provide substantial savings. He also said preliminary suggestions had been broached about studying the Town Forrest, between the north and southbound lanes of Rte. 128, as a site for a wind farm.
“Now is the time to evaluate all options for renewable energy,” Keegan said. “I think the issue with aesthetics is something that’s becoming less of an issue.”
Keegan is not the only one pushing wind power in Dedham.
Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Donald Reisner, who is spearheading the Fairbanks turbine plan, has said during numerous meetings that he does not intend to single out Rustcraft Road for a turbine.
“Once this one is working we will look to do more on other parks,” Reisner said.
The Fairbanks Park wind turbine, it is estimated, could save the town $1,900 each year by offsetting the cost of powering the athletic field lights. Town consultants have said the town could expect $45,000 in grants to help pay for the $60,000 cost of the project.
Neighbors of Fairbanks Park have expressed concern about the potential noise and visual disturbance the turbine could bring to their area.
The turbine plan needs a permit from the ZBA because it exceeds the 85-foot height limit for towers in the town bylaws.
Dedham is not the only town in the state working on municipal wind power. But most of the others, like Hull, which has built two massive turbines on town land several times larger than what is proposed for Fairbanks Park, are located on the coast.
In recent years Norwood has studied wind power and other sources of renewable energy to help add power to their electric system, but has not found it feasible in a densely populated inland environment.
“From our point of view, we could not get the numbers to work,” said Malcolm McDonald of the Norwood Light Department. “For wind power to work you need two things: wind and space. Norwood is pretty well developed and we just don’t get the kind of wind that coastal communities get.”
McDonald said a Norwood committee was still studying renewable energy and would be interested in investing in it if proven economically practical.
“I hope it works out in Dedham,” McDonald said. “I wish them the best.”
At Monday’s ZBA hearing on the Fairbanks windmill, Newell Thomas, an engineer with Lighthouse Electrical contracting, said that Dedham received a “moderate, but not excellent” level of wind each year.
Keegan said that anything the town can do to save money in an environmentally friendly way is worth the effort.
“Last year our utility bills jumped tremendously,” Keegan said. “This is a great opportunity to save responsibly.”
Martin Aikens of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which runs a turbine at its headquarters in Dorchester, told the ZBA that concerns about the size of the Fairbanks turbine were overblown and Dedham should be thinking even bigger.
“If this works, we have to look at making Dedham a wind city,” Aikens said. “You put two here, two there, and then look at putting up a big one.”
By Patrick Anderson
20 July 2007
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