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Westport officials mull changes to turbine plan  

Selectmen are expected to consider changes to the Town Hall wind turbine project in an effort to satisfy concerns raised by a former selectmen chairwoman.

Veronica F. Beaulieu said she had won some concessions from the town during a meeting Wednesday at the state Attorney General’s Office as a result of her bid protest.

She filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office on May 23, charging that the new contract with the builder violated state law for awarding contracts by changing the project’s scope without giving other companies a chance to bid on the new proposal.

Last month, selectmen approved a revised contract for a 120-foot turbine. The $63,400 project is contingent on the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative approving a $45,000 rebate, so the town could recoup most of the cost.

Ms. Beaulieu has asserted in her complaint that the new contract reached between selectmen and contractor Steve Pitney changed the project’s scope, as described when advertised in March 2007.

Town officials offered to revert aspects of the project back to the original plan, Ms. Beaulieu said.

The contractor would have to build the foundation for the tower, not the Highway Department, and the turbine would be hooked up to the Town Hall, rather than the Highway Department’s garage, she said.

Despite the reported concessions, though, Ms. Beaulieu has not withdrawn her protest.

“I don’t have confidence they will do what they said they’re going to do,” she said.

Selectmen Chairman J. Duncan Albert said selectmen will likely consider the latest contract changes at their June 30 meeting.

Asked how he might vote, Mr. Albert said, “I will read the contract and then decide.”

David P. Dionne, chairman of the Westport Alternative Energy Committee, said he was unsure about the project’s fate. Mr. Albert will be the swing vote on the revised contract, said Mr. Dionne, a leading supporter of the turbine.

“The project has been derailed and brought back to life more times than I can count,” Mr. Dionne said.

The bid protest is the latest controversy in a long-running debate over the wind turbine proposal. When selectmen approved the new contract last month, they appeared to have resolved an eight-month impasse with Mr. Pitney.

He had guaranteed the town would make back the balance of the cost after the rebate – $18,400 – through energy cost savings in 13 years. If it didn’t, he said he would pay the difference.

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

By Brian Boyd
Standard-Times staff writer

southcoasttoday.com

24 June 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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