SOUTH DENNIS – Selectmen last night joined their Yarmouth counterparts in endorsing a wind data tower at the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School in South Yarmouth.
The Dennis board unanimously approved placing the proposal before the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District Committee, which must ultimately decide whether the project moves forward.
The proposed meteorological tower – known as an MET tower – is the next step in efforts to erect a wind turbine that could serve much of the regional school district’s energy needs.
“Personally, I’m open to the idea,” schools Supt. Carol Woodbury said, after the Dennis selectmen voted last night. “You just have to collect the data to make sure it’s worthwhile.”
Issues such as clearing trees for the tower and who pays to build the turbine also need to be explored, she said.
On July 31, Yarmouth selectmen approved bringing the proposed project to the district’s school committee, but because it is not a school-related activity both town boards had to sign off, said George Allaire, director of the Yarmouth Department of Public Works.
Allaire has been working on the project with the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative – a state-financed organization that promotes renewable energy projects and technologies. The collaborative would raise the tower and collect and analyze data, including wind speed and direction, for 12 to 13 months before making a recommendation, he said.
The Yarmouth initiative is one of 23 wind energy projects on the Cape that have come before the collaborative, according to Emily Dahl, a spokeswoman for the group.
A turbine is already in use at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and several other Cape turbines funded through the collaborative are expected to be constructed next year, Dahl said.
Although the pole for the wind data tower is relatively small, it would require roughly a 240-foot diameter footprint because of guide lines needed to hold it up, Allaire said. The tower would rise about 164 feet off the ground, he said.
If the wind data comes back favorable for the construction of a turbine, Yarmouth officials could apply for a competitive grant to help fund it through the collaborative.
A turbine built at the school might be between 164 and 229 feet at the center of the blades, Allaire said.
About a half-dozen sites in Yarmouth were examined as possible locations for a turbine, including the town’s wastewater treatment plant, said Edward Voelker, chairman of the Yarmouth Energy Committee.
The school property was chosen because buildings there use a lot of energy, the site faced minimal Federal Aviation Administration restrictions and the wind appeared strong, Voelker said.
Once erected, data from the test tower would reveal whether the location is good within about six months, Voelker said.
The next meeting of the district’s school committee is scheduled for Sept. 10, but it is unclear when the test tower proposal will make it onto the panel’s agenda, Woodbury said.
By Patrick Cassidy
22 August 2007