With high electricity prices, concerns about climate change and water/air pollution, good wind resources, and public support for renewable energy, Massachusetts is a great place for wind opportunity – and so is Rutland.
On August 15, there was a meeting at the Rutland Public Library where Chris Clark, senior manager at Massachusetts Tech Collaborative, came to display computer analysis for five prospective wind turbine sites in Rutland: Central tree Middle School, the DPW yard, Muschopauge Drinking Water Treatment Plant, Glenwood Elementary School and Rutland Heights Hospital.
Although the computer analysis predicted that the Rutland Heights site has the lowest annual average wind speed, Tom Dufault, RDIC Chairman, said a 50-meter tower will be constructed at the Heights site within the next few months to conduct wind surveys.
“It is imperative to test each site,” said Sean Hamilton, general manager of the Templeton Water and Electric Company, who has been involved in wind turbine planning at Narragansett High School, which was considered to have low annual average wind speed.
Hamilton thought otherwise. He knew of the powerful winds at the school from playing football there since he was young, and the wind tests proved him right.
Tom Dufault feels the same way about the Heights site, having visited it for the past 13 years.
The state bond for the redevelopment of the Heights site will fund the tower.
Pending a height restriction waiver, the Heifer Project at Overlook Farm is planning to erect a 150-foot tower to test wind speed for the prospects of a wind turbine on its property.
“We plan to share all information we gather with the town,” said Gary Liimantainen, facilities manager at Overlook, a self-sustainability-promoting farm in Rutland. The 270- acre farm is about a mile from the DPW site.
But the DPW site, as well as the Glenwood Elementary School, was considered by Chris Clark to be the least favorable because of the proximity to nearby residences.
According to the data gathered by MTC, the best locations out of the five were Central Tree Middle School and the Muschopauge Water Treatment Plant since they have both high annual average wind speeds, large amounts of electricity used every year, are reasonably distant from residences and also would be easiest for delivery of the turbine (about a 140 ft.-long truck).
However, the above information was generated from computer data, which Hamilton and Chris Clark have said are non-exact, making wind testing imperative.
After the tests are done, if the town wishes to further this project, grants in the form of services are available for a feasibility study.
By Steve Roux
23 August 2007
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