State officials are considering placing a wind turbine on top of Great Blue Hill in Milton, capitalizing on surging interest in alternative forms of energy.
The idea is in the early stages, but a $10,000 state grant is being used to study the feasibility.
One concern is that a state-of-the-art wind turbine, as high as 335 feet with blades of approximately 120 feet, could interfere with planes flying from Norwood or Logan airports.
State Senator Brian A. Joyce is championing the turbine, which he said could generate 1.5 megawatts of power. He is setting up meetings with people who might have an interest or might be affected.
“I am intrigued by the idea of a turbine at the Blue Hills,” said the Milton Democrat. “It certainly seems to warrant discussion.” He applauded the administration’s interest in alternative sources of energy.
Blue Hills joins the Quincy Shipyard as a possible site for a new wind turbine. Last week Jay Cashman, whose construction company wants to build a massive offshore wind power project on Buzzards Bay, made public his intention to also erect a wind turbine on land he owns at the shipyard. The shipyard wind mill would, at 386 feet, be taller than the one proposed for the Blue Hills.
A state official was noncommital about whether a wind turbine in the Blue Hills might actually be built.
“You have a nice high point, people are interested, and we’ll see what the possibilities are,” said spokesman Robert Keough of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. .
Great Blue Hill, at 635 feet, is renowned for its wind gusts. The second strongest wind gust ever noted – 186 miles per hour – was recorded on its peak in 1938.
If built, the turbine would be a highly visible emblem of wind power. The peak of Great Blue Hill in Blue Hills Reservation can be seen for miles by homeowners and commuters, especially along Interstates 93 and 95 and Route 128.
Two groups with a strong interest in any changes in the area are the Friends of the Blue Hills, a nonprofit dedicated to the Blue Hills Reservation, and the Blue Hill Observatory and Science Center, which touts itself as the oldest, continuosly operating weather observatory in the country.
Neither organization has expressed opposition, but both said they are watching developments keenly.
“We’re concerned something that big might affect the climate up there,” said Charles Orloff, director of the observatory atop the hill.
“We’re not automatically opposed,” said Judy Lehrer Jacobs, executive director of the Friends. “We need more information to make a decision on it.”
The size, shape, or location of the turbine has yet to be determined.
Officials are also looking at other nearby sites, such as Chickatawbut Hill, the second highest peak in the reservation.
Other large wind generators in the state are the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers turbine in Dorchester and two in Hull.
Joyce said he had been interested in the possibility of a turbine on the site for several years but found little interest in the Romney administration. His interest was rekindled after talks with two Milton residents, William White and Selectwoman Kathryn Fagan, both of whom have a strong interest in alternative sources of energy.
By Matt Carroll
16 September 2007
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