Westport – Almost four weeks after selectmen signed a contract to build a wind turbine for Town Hall, no application has been submitted to the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative for a rebate. The MTC rebate program expired June 13, more than two weeks before the contract was signed.
MTC Project Manager Tyler Leeds said Friday he was aware of the project but hadn’t received an application, and hadn’t been contacted to ask for an exception to the deadline. The MTC will release information on new small wind turbine rebates as early as this fall, he added.
Alternate Energy’s Steve Pitney, the contractor for the project, did not return a call seeking comment.
The Town Hall turbine is expected to receive an MTC grant of up to $45,000. The cost to taxpayers before the grant is $63,400. The turbine would only be built if a rebate is approved by the MTC, according to the contract.
The Board of Selectmen approved the contract June 30 without discussion.
Selectmen J. Duncan Albert, Steven Ouellette and Brian Valcourt voted to sign the contract, while Gary Mauk and Robert Rebello were opposed. Valcourt said the turbine might be considered by the MTC anyway because Pitney signed an earlier version of the contract.
Leeds said the MTC would have to decide internally if they would give an exception.
The MTC altered its rebate program after a report in April by an environmental consultant said performance of turbines funded by the MTC were “lackluster.” The type of turbine that would be built behind Town Hall – a Bergey 10 kilowatt – has had especially low performance, data showed, but no explanation was given.
A report last month by The Cadmus Group for small turbine projects that received funding from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative said the overall performance of such turbines across the state has been “lackluster.”
“Based on our experience testing systems, the installers almost universally overestimate annual energy production. Often this overestimation is quite significant,” the report said. Why the turbines have underperformed isn’t clear, the report said, but may be due to lower-than-expected wind speeds and greater-than-expected turbulence.
Wind maps in southeastern Massachusetts, including Cape Cod, may especially overestimate wind energy potential by 10 to 20 percent, the report said. The report calls for strengthening MTC grant requirements “to ensure that only the better sites receive funding.”
David Dionne, the chairman of the Alternative Energy Committee, blamed selectmen for intentionally delaying a vote on the project past the deadline.
By Grant Welker
Herald News Staff Reporter
26 July 2008
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