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Towers part of study to test winds  

RUTLAND— Two wind towers will be installed in the next several months to analyze wind speed and determine whether power generating wind turbines will be feasible at those sites.

Neither tower will be installed or funded by the town, but the town may benefit from the data generated as it considers whether to pursue wind energy in order to reduce the cost of electricity for town buildings.

The announcements of the wind towers were made at an informational meeting sponsored by the Rutland Development Industrial Commission last night at the library.

Michael diBara, vice chairman of the RDIC, said the commission had received a grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to explore the feasibility of five town sites, including the former Rutland Heights Hospital, Central Tree Middle School and the water treatment plant at Muschopauge Pond. Two other sites, the Department of Public Works facility on Route 56 and the Glenwood Elementary School, were not considered favorable because of nearby residences.

Christopher Clark, senior project manager at MTC, said the middle school and water treatment plant were the most attractive sites for a large wind turbine, based on wind modeling, power usage at each site, accessibility and proximity to residences.

Additional grants in the form of services are available for a full-fledged feasibility study, if the town is interested in pursuing the matter.

A 150-meter study tower will be installed at Heifer Project’s Overlook Farm on Wachusett Street. Gary Liimatainen, facilities manager for the farm, said wind power complemented Heifer’s mission to encourage self sufficiency.

“We’re on one of the highest points in town,” Mr. Liimatainen said. “We’re hoping to be able to (produce enough for) our electrical needs.”

The tower is to be onsite for one year as part of the full feasibility study.

“We would like to have it installed by the end of the month,” Mr. Liimatainen said. “There’s some question about the height restrictions – we need a waiver.”

A 50-meter tower will be at the site of the former Rutland Heights Hospital; the cost of the tower will be covered by the state bond for redevelopment of the site.

Thomas Dufault, chairman of the RDIC, said he felt it was worth moving forward with the study, even though the wind modeling maps indicate that wind speed at the site map may be too low to be economically feasible.

“Having been up there for the last 13 years, I personally feel the wind maps are wrong,” Mr. Dufault said.

Mr. DiBara said the Overlook Farm tower and the Rutland Hospital are both near the sites identified for the town by MTC.

“They should get good data (that the town may be able to use),” he said. “Rutland Heights is close to the school and Heifer Project is less than a mile from the water treatment plant.”

Mr. DiBara said he was looking to determine what the town’s goals were regarding wind energy.

“We’re looking to build a coalition with town officials and residences,” Mr. DiBara said. “This could be the cleanest form of economic development.”

By Sandy Meindersma

Worcester Telegram & Gazette

16 August 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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