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Windmill receives positive report: Turbine envisioned on Great Blue Hill 

A windmill atop the tallest peak in the state-owned Blue Hills Reservation in Milton is a feasible project for the state to pursue, a new report says.

The proposed wind turbine atop 635-foot-high Great Blue Hill, a potentially dramatic and highly visible addition to the South Shore skyline, promises to be regarded by some as a clean-energy symbol and by others as a blight on the landscape.

It would be nearly three times as tall as the landmark WGBH radio tower on the hill.

A state-funded report by the Renewable Energy Research Laboratory at UMass-Amherst, released Wednesday, found no ‘‘fatal flaws’’ in the proposal.

Promoting the proposal is state Sen. Brian A. Joyce, a Milton Democrat, who emphasized that the report is a feasibility study, not a final recommendation, and that the seeking of approvals comes next, along with public scrutiny.

‘‘Whether it’s Cape Wind or a windmill on Great Blue Hill, these things are not always black and white,’’ Joyce said. ‘‘There could be noise pollution. There could be aesthetic pollution. There could be other drawbacks.’’

Joyce’s Hinckley Road neighbor, Gov. Deval Patrick, a staunch wind farm supporter, declined through a spokesman on Wednesday to take a position on the Blue Hills proposal.

The windmill, which has estimated blade-tip heights of of 250 feet to 450 feet, would probably dwarf the 150-foot WGBH transmission tower.

Proponents say it could generate enough electricity to power the 7,000-acre reservation’s Trailside Museum and ski area, the state-owned Ponkapoag Golf Course in Canton and the Blue Hill Observatory atop Great Blue Hill.

‘‘There’s nothing in the report that will rule it out,’’ said Lisa Capone, spokeswoman for the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Potential project-related difficulties cited in the report include air-traffic disruptions for Norwood Memorial Airport and electromagnetic interference with the WGBH tower, smaller microwave towers and a weather station. Noise problems for neighboring residents are not anticipated, the report says.

The report does not explore aesthetic concerns or how visible a windmill would be from surrounding points.

Also considered in the report is the possibility of putting a turbine atop the reservation’s second-highest peak, the 517-foot Chickatawbut Hill. It says the winds atop Great Blue Hill are stronger.

The report, funded by a $10,000 state grant, will be quickly followed by an economic feasibility study. If the plan were to proceed, a temporary wind monitoring tower would be built.

The report was issued Wednesday to interested parties including Friends of the Blue Hills and the Massachusetts Audubon Society, which operates the Trailside Museum.

Friends of the Blue Hills spokeswoman Judy Jacobs said she is concerned about possibility of creating an eyesore.

‘‘There definitely would be an impact on the scenic value of the area, or at least a change,’’ she said.

WGBH, a public television station whose call letters stand for Great Blue Hill, says its only concern with the plan is potential disruption of its signal. Near the WGBH tower is a smaller tower that the State Police force uses to transmit signals to its officers and barracks.

‘‘The only concern we would have is that it would be constructed so that it didn’t interfere with our radio broadcast operations or the other dishes on our tower,’’ WGBH spokeswoman Jean Hopkins said.

By Tom Benner
Patriot Ledger State House Bureau

The Patriot Ledger

8 November 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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