A $7.3 million project to install two wind turbines in the Orleans watershed is moving closer to construction.
This week the Massachusetts Senate referred to committee the bill needed to permit the private project on four acres of land in the public watershed off Route 28 in Orleans. The bill’s final passage isn’t likely until after Labor Day.
On Monday night, Orleans water commissioners and selectmen meet to work on a request for proposals for a private developer to build and operate the 397-foot tall turbines, water commissioner Kevin Galligan said yesterday.
If all goes well, the request for proposals from bidders may go out in August, and turbines may be operating by next spring or early summer, he said. Voters originally approved the turbines last year.
State Rep. Sarah Peake, D-Provincetown filed the bill this spring, and it was passed weeks ago by the House.
Legislative approval is necessary because it involves the lease of public land for private use. It requires approval by two-thirds of the Legislature in a formal session. The town stands to benefit from the arrangement by reaping more than $100,000 in the first year, in lieu of taxes on the lands, in free electricity and the right to buy more electricity at discounted prices.
The Orleans Site Plan Committee is reviewing the clearing of trees, the construction and widening of access roads, and relocation of primary water mains needed to install the turbines. The site was picked to supply power to a nearby water treatment plant .
The rest of the power will be sold by the developer on the wholesale market.
The project has been called a model for other municipalities that want to work with the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to install wind turbines.
“We’re all learning a great amount through this process,” said Galligan, a former member of the wind energy committee that started the project in 2003.
By Susan Milton
28 July 2007
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