Fall River – Installation of a 260-foot, 1.5-megawatt wind turbine at the waste water treatment facility could bring “significant economic and environmental benefits” to the city and pay back the investment within 7½ years, says a draft report discussed Tuesday night by engineering consultants with the City Council.
Massachusetts-based Boreal Renewable Energy Development made those assessments following a three-month study of a test wind turbine at the site that was about half that height.
They began their presentation close to 9:30 last night, too late for deadline reports.
Their report said the wind turbine to supply power has the potential to offset $1 million a year in electricity costs at the treatment facility, located in a largely industrial area at 1979 Bay St. by the Tiverton line.
Led by professional engineer Richard C. Gross, the feasibility study concluded that the location contains excellent wind resources with unobstructed southwest winds off Mount Hope Bay, has few residential abutters and that electricity costs are “high and volatile.”
The report also said that up to $500,000 in state grants are available through the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.
Analyses within the 100-page draft report delivered to the council in May suggests spending $4.3 million for a 1.5-megawatt General Electric turbine that could recoup costs within the shortest period.
It lists four other turbines with paybacks ranging from 8½ to 11¼ years.
During the study from last July through October, with a 130-foot test tower, the report says wind speeds averaged 4.37 meters per second, which “correlates adequately with New Bedford Regional Airport wind speeds over the same period.”
Adjusting for longterm weather patterns, the report predicts the average wind speed with a 260-foot tower would increase by about 50 percent to 6.27 meters per second.
“This is very good for Massachusetts,” it concluded.
Terrance J. Sullivan, city director of public utilities, said this wind turbine project fits the mold of the city’s recently enacted energy management program through performance contracting.
Its aim is to pay for energy enhancements that contractors agree to perform, with payment coming through program savings that the contractor guarantees.
Paying for the $4.3 million cost in the estimated 7½ years “would be a perfect fit” for that program, Sullivan said.
He said the city is looking to finalize the feasibility study with City Council input and take the next steps forward.
Addressing other site issues, the draft report says there is “sufficient real estate and buffer area” for erecting a “utility-scale wind turbine.” It also suggests that stake holders in the city and the Mount Hope Bay area be involved in future decisions about the project.
Veolia Water, operator of the wastewater treatment facility, also participated in preparation of the report.
By Michael Holtzman
Herald News Staff Reporter
15 July 2008
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