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Town moves one step closer to wind power

The Town of Barrington is one step closer to a greener way of life. The council voted to approve a wind turbine project at the high school as presented at the Monday, April 7 meeting by the Committee for Renewable Energy in Barrington. The school committee opted to wait to take a vote at its April 24 meeting.

James Bride, chairman of the renewable energy committee, said he needs approval from both committees to move on to the next phase of the project, to direct the town manager to prepare a $2.4 million bond resolution for the financial town meeting in May, and launch a public outreach program.

Superintendent Robert O. McIntyre said Patrick Guida, chairman of the school committee, expressed concern over the cost of wind turbine, which changed over the course of the project from $2.1 million to $2.4 million.

Jeffrey Brenner, president of the town council and liaison to the town’s Renewable Energy Committee, said both figures came from a German-based company and the price fluctuated due to the increased value of the euro. There are companies who manufacture similar wind turbines in the United States, as well, he said.

“We might be able to reduce the proposed cost,” he said.

Mr. Bride said the committee used conservative numbers in their project.

Some school committee members, and some residents, expressed concern over the noise the wind turbine might generate.

“Anticipated noise level at the property line is equivalent to rustling leaves or nearby traffic,” Mr. Bride said.

If the project is approved, the wind turbine would be located on high school grounds near the football field and adjacent to the industrial arts area, and more than 500 feet from any residence, he said.

School committee member James Hasenfus said his main concern is whether the wind turbine will produce enough energy to power the school on a daily basis.

A consultant for the wind turbine project said there is over 40 years of data from nearby airports, power plants and coast guard stations that proves there is enough wind to power the high school day in and day out.

The consultant also pointed out that the high school is located between County and Federal roads.

“There is a lot of ambient noise in those neighborhoods to mask the wind turbine,” he said.

Why the high school?

Barrington High School is the single largest electricity user in town, said Mr. Brenner.

Current electricity costs $180,000 a year, Mr. Bride said. “Providing greatest potential for savings.”

The high school is an ideal site for the wind turbine, Mr. Bride said, because it is easy to predict how much power it needs to operate on a daily basis.

What’s next?

Mr. Bride said he needs support from the school committee in order to direct the town manager to prepare a $2.4 million bond resolution for the financial town meeting in May and generate support from a public outreach program.

The committee hopes to obtain necessary approvals and permits, and award a contract to a manufacturer in 2009. By 2010, they hope to prepare a site and build a wind turbine on the high school property.

Timeline

Barrington Town Council appointed Barrington Exploratory Wind Power Committee in early 2007.

In June 2007, the committee released a report that identified five feasible sites for a wind turbine.

The town applied for and received approval for an interest-free Clean Renewable Energy Bond in late 2007.

Around that time, the council established a permanent Renewable Energy Committee to further explore wind energy options and alternatives, and conservation measures for the town.

By Kim Centazzo

eastbayri.com

9 April 2008