Plans to build a wind turbine in town met little opposition Tuesday night, moving one step closer to finalization.
In a 4-0 vote, with one abstention, the Zoning Board of Appeals approved a special exception that will allow the construction of a 125-foot tower to which the 50-KW turbine will be fastened at the town’s transfer station.
The decision met opposition from one resident living near the transfer station. Beth Hallissey of Fernald Road, said more research should be done on the amount of noise the turbine could create.
“I feel there has not been any level of detail given to us in regards to the noise,” Hallissey said. “Just dismissing (the turbine) as something I’m not able to hear is not acceptable.”
Hallissey said she expected data at the ZBA meeting on how much noise she and other abutters to the transfer station would hear from the wind turbine when it became operational. The Fernald Road resident said she wasn’t completely opposed to the project, but she didn’t want the town to rush through approval of it for fear that they “will have to be living with this day in and day out.”
Several residents and members of the town’s Energy Committee spoke in favor of the turbine, with many of them saying the noise produced from the turbine would be no louder than a normal conversation and that noise from the transfer station and nearby Route 236 and I-95 would likely drown out noise from the turbine. Estimates from Entegrity Wind Systems Inc., the maker of the turbine, were that the turbine would produce 55 decibels of noise from 400 feet away.
Kittery Public Works Commissioner Richard Rossiter said the nearest abutter to the turbine was approximately 650 feet away from the nearest property line and the tower would be placed 120 feet back from that line.
At least one member of the ZBA agreed that there hadn’t been enough research on the amount of noise that the turbine could produce at the nearest homes, particularly at night.
“I like the project, but my concern is not enough work has been done on noise levels,” said Herbert Kingsbury. “Excess noise could affect future developments.”
Board member Sarah Brown disagreed, saying that the Energy Committee put a year-and-a-half of research into finding a place for the turbine and the project has received approval from the Kittery Town Council.
“There’s already quite a bit of noise with the breaking up of glass and all the machinery going on there,” said Brown about the transfer station.
Rossiter, who visited several wind turbine installations in New England, said the normal noise from the transfer station was louder than a wind turbine.
ZBA Chair Vern Gardner said that with an absence of experts from both sides, opposing and for the turbine, the decision of whether or not the turbine would affect abutters was largely left up to board members.
Bob Sheppard, deputy director of the nonprofit Clean Air – Cool Planet and a member of the Energy Committee, said the town could expect $9,000 in energy savings a year, by conservative measures, from the electricity produced by the turbine. He estimated that the modest turbine could produce 90,000 kilowatts of electricity annually.
“This is not what’s considered a utility-grade turbine,” Sheppard said. “But it’s larger than what you’d see at someone’s home or farm.”
Cameron Wake, UNH research associate professor and a member of the Energy Committee, said the turbine could potentially pay for itself in 10 to 15 years. With a 30 year life-expectancy, Wake said the town would have about 15 years of free power for the transfer station, and the remaining 10-, 15- or 20-percent of electricity supporting the nearby Shapleigh Middle School.
He said the committee spent careful time and consideration in finding a suitable home for the turbine at the transfer station.
“It’s something that fits the scale of topography at the waste transfer station,” Wake said.
Last December, the town council approved funding of up to $150,000 for a 50-KW wind turbine proposed by Entegrity Wind Systems Inc., a company based in Boulder, Colo. Another $50,000 from a Maine Public Utilities Commission’s grant will help pay off the $185,000 price of the turbine.
Entegrity proposed no wind turbine maintenance costs for the first five years of the turbine’s life. The sixth year of maintenance would cost $1,350.
By Nick Gosling
23 January 2008
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding