KITTERY, Maine – Maybe it will come with the wind: The town may someday feature a wind turbine at the transfer station, but for now the town is simply looking for proposals for the technology.
Town Manger Jon Carter and the town’s energy committee are researching the possibility of installing a 50,000- to 100,000-kilowatt wind turbine installed on transfer station land.
The turbine would feed directly into the main Central Maine Power grid and would provide energy to the transfer station and potentially energy credits for the Shapleigh Middle School.
“We’re kind of making sure the public knows we’re moving slow on this,” Carter said. “We have a really good group trying to figure out how this thing can be put up.”
Requests for proposals have been sent by the town to about eight companies, which Carter said will have until Nov. 30 to submit a proposal. In the meantime, Carter said an energy committee comprising, among others, town councilor Glenn Shwaery, Clean Air, Cool Earth deputy director Bob Sheppard and Dr. Cameron Wake of the University of New Hampshire, will continue to research costs, benefits and the impact of the relatively small turbine.
Sheppard acknowledged that residents in potential turbine communities have been concerned, but said technology has improved in recent years.
Newer turbines, an example being those in Hull, Mass., produce little noise and little hazard to wildlife, he said.
The town has also applied for and was awarded a grant from the Maine Public Utilities Commission for the amount of $50,000. As nothing has come to a public hearing or the Town Council yet, Carter said the town has not signed off on the grant and will continue to wait until they receive RFPs back and are able to present the plan to the council and Kittery residents.
Sheppard said that the main advantage of the turbine would be maintaining or lowering utility rates for the town.
He added that it could also represent a clean, renewable source of energy for the town and used the example of Hull, where he said the turbines have offset energy costs and become a source of town pride.
“I think a lot of folks in communities we’ve had the opportunity to talk with have decided that it’s good for the community, good for the environment,” Sheppard said. “There’s still a number of hurdles before we get steel up and blades spinning in the breeze.”
Sheppard and Carter agreed that there could be a potential educational element as well, with residents and students at town schools learning about wind power.
A formal proposal designed for consideration by the council and residents will likely be forthcoming after the RFPs are collected on Nov. 30.
By David Choate
16 November 2007
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