WESTPORT – Selectmen postponed a decision on the Town Hall wind turbine contract Monday, prompting a leading supporter to accuse them of unnecessary delays.
Selectmen voted 4-1 to take up at their Oct. 9 meeting whether to sign a contract for construction of a wind turbine at Town Hall. They are inviting a critic of the proposal to speak.
Skeptical selectmen are expressing doubt the turbine, approved by Town Meeting earlier this year, will produce the savings in electricity costs that supporters tout.
“It does not fly by the common-sense check,” said Selectman Gary Earle Mauk, during the selectmen meeting.
Mr. Mauk dismisses the proposal as too small and in a poor location for a sustainable amount of wind.
David P. Dionne, chairman of the Westport Alternative Energy Committee, stood up at the meeting and questioned the delay. He said if the selectmen are trying to bury the Town Meeting-approved project, they should do so openly.
“We can kick this around forever, but this was a vote of Town Meeting,” he said.
The selectmen want to hear from Ronald DiPippo, chairman of the Dartmouth Alternative Energy Committee. In August, he wrote a guest column in The Standard-Times arguing the Westport proposal could take at least 24 years to pay for itself and small turbines in general can be uneconomic.
One selectman, Steven J. Ouellette, who voted against delaying the contract matter, said, “We are holding it up.”
The turbine would cost $63,400. A state grant would cover $45,000, and the town’s savings on electricity bills would make up for the balance of $18,400 in under nine years, Mr. Dionne said after the meeting.
The turbine would produce 8,432 kilowatt hours per year, he said.
The proposed contract stipulates that no construction would take place until the grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative is approved, he said.
Selectmen Chairwoman Veronica F. Beaulieu said afterwards while Town Meeting approved the turbine, she has talked to many people who did not attend the meeting and are against the proposed location.
She said she doubts the savings produced by the turbine would be noticeable on the town’s electrical bills.
She denied the selectmen were engaging in delay tactics. She said they earlier agreed to allow the process to move forward, but they were not told previously they would need to sign a contract at this point.
By Brian Boyd
Standard-Times staff writer
25 September 2007
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