Hull officials are moving ahead with plans to build four offshore wind turbines, with the capacity to generate enough power to meet 100 percent of the town’s electricity needs.
A Wellesley consulting and engineering firm contracted by Hull to develop the proposal filed an application with state officials in December to erect four power-generating windmills on a shoal known as Harding’s Ledge, roughly 1.5 miles east of Nantasket Beach.
State environmental officials will visit Hull town hall on Jan. 24 to review the plan, and are collecting public comments through Jan. 29. State Secretary of Environmetal Affairs Ian Bowles, a staunch wind-energy supporter, is expected to make a preliminary decision sometime around Feb. 6.
With two land-based turbines producing some 12 percent of the town’s electricity, officials hope to expand Hull’s renewable-power inventory with four offshore turbines that would produce a total of 15 megawatts of power.
“This would be the first offshore series of wind turbines in the country,” Hull town manager Phil Lemnios said. “We had such a favorable response to our two land-based turbines, the town’s people are pursing the offshore options.”
With few options for additional land-based turbines in Hull, the town hopes to build on offshore turbine technology developed and popularized in Europe, Lemnios said.
A $1.7 million from Massachusetts Technological Collaborative grant is underwriting a feasibility study on the plan by ESS Group of Wellesley.
Before offshore turbine construction can begin, studies must be performed to see if the ocean floor could support the turbines and how the construction might affect lobsters and other marine wildlife, said a spokeswoman for ESS Group. The construction also must receive approval from local, state and federal agencies.
Hull lobsterman John Meschino, a member of the town’s conservation commission, said fishermen are concerned about the construction of transmission lines that would be buried in the seabed and link the offshore turbines with the Hull municipal light plant.
“There are quite a few fishermen who have concerns about it. They have a concern about the destruction of habitat, and questions about construction and testing,” Meschino said. “There’s not too much information that’s been brought forth, scientific evidence that would back up the proposal.”
The cost to build Hull’s first, 660-kilowatt wind turbine was $1.2 million, and $3 million for its second, 1.8-megawatt turbine. The cost to build what many are already calling Hull Wind III has yet to be determined, Lemnios said.
Under the plan, the four turbines would be built about 1.5 miles offshore, and stand roughly 430 feet to the tip of the blades.
Public comments on the plan may be emailed to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Tom Benner
15 January 2008
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