PRINCETON – The Planning Board has approved a revised site plan for the wind farm upgrade project that shows a change in location for one of the two turbines.
Princeton Municipal Light Department Manager Jonathan Fitch presented a plan for the final layout for the two wind turbine towers at the Planning Board’s May 21 meeting.
Fuhrlander, the turbine manufacturer, analyzed the site and determined that the location of one of the turbines should be moved, said Fitch. Fuhrlander asked PMLD to shift the southeastern turbine approximately 300 feet to the right because it offered a more typical rock-anchor foundation, he said. The original turbine location required a rip-rap retaining wall around the turbine foundation. It also included a 14-foot raised concrete cylinder to accommodate the steep slope and final height of the construction pad adjacent to the tower.
“The wind consultant also did an analysis and found the new location would work fine,” said Fitch.
The new location eliminates the need for an elevated construction pad, the retaining wall, and a non-standard foundation design, said Fitch. It will also reduce the amount of access road work on site and creates a straighter line-up of the two turbines on the horizon, since the southern turbine will now be closer to the overall height of the northern turbine foundation of 1,471 feet, he added.
The turbine will be less visible from Westminster Road and the Mid-state trail and remains further away from Stage Coach Trail than the northern turbine, Fitch added.
Since the natural slope of the site rises as you move to the right, the new location is slightly higher in elevation, he added. The elevation at the top of the original foundation was 1,414 feet. The elevation at the new location will be 1,450 feet.
“This change is minimal in nature and has minimal impact on the original site plan review given the scale of the turbines and the same overall turbine orientation,” said Fitch.
“It still retains a north-south line between the turbines. There is a 36-foot elevation difference between the old and new location.”
“Epsilon Associates [the firm hired by PMLD to do environmental studies for the project] and I have contacted MEPA [Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act]. They felt it was a minor change and asked us to put something in writing and they will give us an advisory opinion.”
After reviewing the list of conditions contained in the original site plan review approved in September 2005, board members agreed the modification presented by PMLD was small in nature and consistent with all the original conditions. The board agreed to send a letter to abutters advising them of the change and letting them know they could review the plan at the town hall or at PMLD.
The original site work at the wind farm related to the Stage Coach Trail access road, the majority of the roadwork on site, and most of the site preparation for the upcoming foundation work is done.
Starting in June, PMLD intends to finish construction of the wind turbine foundations, crane construction pads, and electrical connections. That will complete the majority of the site work in preparation for the actual turbine delivery and erection in April/May 2009.
“The area that had originally been blasted for the southeastern foundation has been graded over and will be maintained as open space,” said Fitch. “[Department of Conservation and Recreation] would rather have the open space than forest because of the habitat.”
PMLD had no complaints during the blasting last fall and a fire detail was on hand every day along with an environmental police officer, said Fitch. State Reservation Supervisor Dwayne Ericson has checked the site and is satisfied with the access road, he noted.
“There was very little runoff this winter and we just have some minor work to do on drainage, including maintenance of drainage swales,” he said.
The lead-time on turbine delivery is much longer now because of the demand worldwide for turbines, said Fitch.
“Otis Air Force Base is putting up one of the same model turbines that we’re installing,” he said. Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company is erecting 10 turbines in Florida/Monroe, he added.
“We feel very comfortable with the 40 percent energy production from our turbines that we told voters about,” said Fitch. “If it gets better, that’s great. The wind farm is really a winter peaking resource.”
Energy production from the new turbines will stabilize rates where they are for 20- 25 years and may even reduce them, said Fitch. “Right now, our rate is about average for municipals and slightly below investorowned utilities. Right now I’m buying from the open market and paying higher than we were three years ago,” he said.
After a review of the original site plan review, Planning Board members agreed that a hearing must be held on the change.
“This is a pretty minimal modification,” said member Jim Lachance.
“The change is really a better site in terms of the environmental impact because it eliminates the need for the elevated construction pad,” said Fitch.
By Phyllis Booth
5 June 2008
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