BYFIELD – Selectmen will hold a public hearing Aug. 12 on a request by the Triton Regional School District to place a wind test tower on the grounds of its Elm Street campus.
The hearing will take place during the selectmen’s regular meeting at Town Hall.
Triton has applied to the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative for a test tower, which could ultimately lead to a power purchase agreement and lower electrical bills for the school district. Triton needs the town’s approval to go ahead with its application.
Although selectmen seemed to think that the school district wants to erect a wind turbine, Triton Business Manager Brian Forget said that is not the case.
Forget said the test tower is simply a pole with meteorological measuring equipment at the top.
He said Triton is looking at several sites near its playing fields, although the collaborative will make the final selection.
Forget said a test tower would be installed at the selected location and left in place for a year while the actual wind speeds are monitored. After the readings are taken, a technical consultant would analyze the energy production and develop a financial analysis.
The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative is funded by a renewable energy charge on electric bills from investor-owned utilities, such as National Grid. The charge is 5 cents per 100 kilowatt hours of electricity used. Customers of municipal electric utilities do not pay the charge.
In discussing another test tower project on Plum Island last year, Chris Clark, senior project manager at Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, said it is not a grant program. Instead, he said, the collaborative provides services and technical assistance to communities.
He said the agency does a preliminary assessment of a site’s potential after receiving an initial application from a city or town.
Part of the assessment is an estimate of the wind potential based on computer modeling, Clark said. If a site can reasonably be expected to have wind speeds of 14.5 mph at a height of 70 meters, or 231 feet, the community may proceed to the next step, a full-scale feasibility study.
By Victor Tine
23 July 2008
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