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Plymouth awarded $100,000 grant to study wind energy sites  

Plymouth has been awarded a grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative for Wind Turbine Project Feasibility Studies at a number of sites in town. The feasibility study will provide crucial information that will help Plymouth determine the most appropriate ways to pursue potential wind projects at up to three sites, including the wastewater treatment plant, Plymouth South High School and the Indian Brook Elementary School.

A full feasibility study will be completed for two of the three sites, to be selected by the town based upon preliminary results. The preliminary results will include a recommendation regarding the need for wind monitoring at each of the candidate sites. The full study will include: wind monitoring (as needed); a close examination of the project site and vicinity; identification of any possible environmental issues and permits that may be needed; a conceptual wind plant configuration and site plan; and a high level financial analysis.

Up to $80,000 of this award is allocated for work on the feasibility study and up to an additional $20,000 is allocated for business planning and support. Business planning tasks will involve additional analysis to help Plymouth select a specific wind plant configuration and ownership and financing model.

The grant was obtained through the efforts of the Plymouth Energy Committee, an appointed volunteer town committee tasked with advising the selectmen on various issues regarding energy costs and the use of renewable resources, such as the town’s plentiful coastal winds. The committee has been working for over two years in order to help develop zoning bylaws for large scale wind turbines, looking at potential sites around town, and trying to find the financial and ownership model that maximizes the value for the town.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the Town of Plymouth,” Senate President Therese Murray, D-Plymouth, said. “It is important to seek out new energy sources and determine what their impact would be on our environment and our wallets. Current energy consumption and costs are a concern, and the exploration of alternative energy sources, as well as more efficient production practices, should be encouraged. The Plymouth Energy Committee should be proud of their efforts.”

“I am delighted that the MTC has recognized Plymouth with this award,” state Rep. Vinny deMacedo said. “This grant will help to secure Plymouth’s role as a regional leader at the forefront of America’s quest for energy independence.”

“We know that much of the wind over Plymouth is valuable.” Brian Kuhn, chairman of the Energy Committee, said. “We are uniquely located on the coast with good winds and a lot of undeveloped land. We’ve had over a dozen private developers who are pressing us to bid on developing up to 4 turbines at our town-owned Waste Water Treatment Plant site. With today’s modern wind turbines it’s not really a technology challenge anymore. Instead, we’ve been busy trying to find the best way to structure a business deal for the town that should be worth hundreds of thousand of dollars each year in revenue.”

Town Manager Mark Silvia reports that “This grant will go a long way towards helping us reach the ’Plymouth 2020’ goal,” which is a vision of renewable energy use that the Energy Committee recommended and the Board of Selectmen approved this year. “Our plans are to have Plymouth’s municipal facilities relying very heavily on cost-effective, renewable energy by our 400th anniversary.”

The Energy Committee estimates that just five to six utility-scale wind turbines, such as the ones now producing power in Hull, could provide the equivalent amount of power used by all of Plymouth’s municipal facilities, including its 14 schools. A previous town meeting already approved up to four turbines to be sited at the wastewater treatment plant site. Plans for Plymouth 2020 may be viewed at www.PlymouthEnergyCommittee.com.

Work on the projects will begin over the next several weeks. Data collection at any site can take up to a year. However, a meteorological (MET) tower already placed at the Obery Street County Farm this spring for a wind turbine proposed for the county prison could provide earlier results. The town and county are sharing information obtained from this MTC tower in order to maximize its benefit.

Plymouth Bulletin

plymouth.wickedlocal.com

23 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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