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Study results rule out Braintree wind turbine

Braintree – The results of a yearlong study persuaded the Braintree Electric Light Department to rule out the construction of a wind turbine of its own.

A study conducted from July, 2009 to July, 2010 by Atlantic Design Engineers of Sandwich at a cost of $20,000 concluded that there is insufficient wind at the most promising site in town to make the tower economically feasible.

According to General Manager William Bottiggi, technology improvements are expected to lower the cost of wind power, making it a more attractive option for BELD.

“We try to invest as much as we can in renewable energy without negatively impacting rates,” he said.

BELD is involved with a wind power facility on a piece of land in Maine, Bottiggi pointed out.

“It’s about two megawatts of wind that we can add to our available portfolio,” he said. “It hasn’t been constructed yet. The wind farm is expected to go on line in 2011.”

BELD also gets power from a hydroelectric facility in Millers Falls, Me. and one powered by landfill gas in Granby, Ma. and uses solar panels to provide power for its maintenance garage.

These sources provide between three and four percent of BELD’s power, said Bottiggi, who added that the utility is looking at other renewable energy projects.

Using maps from the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and other survey data, BELD identified two possible locations for a local wind turbine.

One was the site of the former landfill off Ivory Street, but this was ruled out because of its potential for redevelopment, Bottiggi said.

The better site, where equipment on loan from the Hingham Light Department was set up to measure wind over the course of a year, was next to the town’s water treatment plant at Great Pond.

“Not only do you need good wind, but you need a fairly large piece of land,” said Bottiggi, who explained that land would be needed to create a safety zone around the tower in case of a collapse or ice being thrown from the blades of the turbine.

The study found an average wind speed that was less than what is needed for a viable wind turbine.

“You need to have six and a half meters per second on wind speed, and we only had about four and a half,” Bottiggi said.

“We picked the best site because it’s kind of unobtrusive,” he concluded. “It is not in your face the way it would have been at the (former) landfill (site).”

Material from GateHouse News Service was used in this story.