Scituate – Now that the town’s Renewable Energy Committee has figured out that a wind turbine at the Waste Water Treatment Plant could save the town money, selectmen are talking about putting more turbines throughout the town.
Bill Limbacher, of the Renewable Energy Committee, presented the selectmen Tuesday with the results of a feasibility study on putting a wind turbine at one of two places near the treatment plant.
After looking at factors such as wind speed and noise pollution, the committee has determined that a turbine is viable. Of the three different sized turbines looked at by the committee, the less powerful could cover all of the plant’s energy needs 85 percent of the time.
Any size turbine, Limbacher said, would save the town more money than they would cost.
“There are pretty significant savings and opportunities,” he said.
When Scituate began looking at the possibility of placing a turbine at the treatment plant, four years ago, the original idea was that the turbine would be used to power the plant. However, a new renewable energy policy called virtual net metering, which has been included in a number of statewide renewable energy proposals, would allow the town to be credited for excess power created by the more-powerful turbine. For example, if the turbine at the treatment plant created 100 extra units of electricity, the town would pay for 100 less units of use at its other properties.
If the town can to take advantage of virtual net metering it would no longer have to put turbines next to town-owned land that could use the energy. Instead a turbine anywhere in town could be used to decrease the town’s overall energy costs.
“Historically, when we started, virtual net metering, the words weren’t strung together, the concept didn’t exist,” Selectmen Chairman Rick Murray said. “The original idea was to put it behind the waste water treatment plant because it was most likely to be a viable accepted plan. That limitation because of virtual net metering has gone away. Because of virtual net metering, we can put it anywhere and everywhere.”
Selectman John Danehey saw the development at a possibility to add more turbines throughout the town.
“If we’re going to be going and trying to get one turbine, why not two and why not three?” he asked.
Murray said he would be open to looking into that possibility after the town has gone through more of the process for getting the first turbine.
“I, for one, would be extremely interested, as soon as we get this one on, quote unquote, autopilot, yeah, let’s start looking at it,” he said
According to the plan laid out by Limbacher Tuesday night, the next step to getting that first turbine would be to provide neighbors with photos of what they turbine could look like from their properties.
After that, the committee will move to holding public forums as well as meetings with the Advisory Board and Capital Planning Committee with the goal of getting construction of the turbine at one of the two sites being studied – construction could cost more than $3 million – on the warrant of an October Special Town Meeting.
By Brian P. Nanos
11 June 2008