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Westport selectmen approve wind turbine contract  

WESTPORT – Selectmen on Monday approved a contract for the proposed Town Hall wind turbine, resolving an eight-month impasse over the terms.

The future of the project is contingent on the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative approving a $45,000 grant to cover most of the project’s $63,400 cost, Chairman J. Duncan Albert said.

Mr. Albert cast the decisive vote in the 3-2 decision. Selectmen Steven Ouellette and Brian Valcourt supported the contract, and Gary Earle Mauk and Robert Rebello opposed the project.

“I’m pleased,” David P. Dionne, chairman of the Westport Alternative Energy Committee, said after the vote. “It’s been a long, hard road.”

During an Oct. 9 selectmen’s meeting, the contractor, Steve Pitney of Plymouth-based Alternate Energy LLC, offered a guarantee that the town would recoup its $18,400 investment through energy cost savings in 13 years or he would pay the difference.

However, when selectmen voted Oct. 22 for a contract stipulating that the town would pay its share in annual equal installments over 13 years, Mr. Pitney objected to what he considered a no-interest financing scheme.

Under the new agreement, Mr. Pitney would negotiate with the town for payments if the 120-foot turbine fails to perform as guaranteed, Mr. Dionne said.

Mr. Pitney was not at Monday night’s meeting.

Mr. Mauk and Mr. Rebello questioned whether the turbine would produce enough energy to make it worthwhile, given its size and location.

Mr. Mauk has said the proposal is too small and in a poor location for sufficient wind.

“This is a bad use of our money,” he said during Monday’s discussion.

“I’m all for wind towers, but not when it’s put behind a building, surrounded by trees,” Mr. Rebello said.

Mr. Albert made it clear he does not have high expectations for the project.

“This wind system is, at best, marginal,” he said.

“It’s going to produce something.”

However, he said that since the project is subject to approval from the MTC, he would vote to go forward with the contract.

Mr. Dionne said afterward that the turbine will be dedicated to the memory of Bob Kowalczyk, a member of the energy committee who died last month after

battling cancer.

In other business, selectmen approved fee increases for dozens of town services.

The increases will take effect July 1.

The changes range from the Cemetery Department’s charge for residents’ graves rising from $350 to $500, to the Building Department’s fee for occupancy permits increasing from $20 to $35.

The budget approved by Town Meeting for fiscal 2009 is balanced on the assumption of service fees increase, Finance Committee Chairwoman Jane Loos said earlier.

By Brian Boyd
Standard-Times staff writer

southcoasttoday.com

20 May 2008

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

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