WESTPORT – A proposed wind turbine in town is one of eight projects selected to receive grants from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.
The center, which spearheads state efforts to support the growth of the clean energy sector, said it would provide a total of $1 million to the eight selected projects. Of that sum, Westport will receive $57,412 for a feasibility study on the possible siting of a 1,500-kilowatt wind turbine on town-owned property located at 54 Hix Bridge Road, behind the town’s recently completed fire station.
Voters at this year’s annual Town Meeting approved the spending of $14,500 for a feasibility study on the matter. Selectman Brian Valcourt, who is also a member of the town’s Alternative Energy Committee, noted that the grant funding from the Clean Energy Center will be used to fund a final study on matter.
At a meeting of the Board of Selectmen on Monday night, Valcourt requested that the board vote to put an article on the warrant of next month’s special Town Meeting appropriating $19,137.50 for the study, a motion the board approved unanimously. Valcourt noted that this would be the last sum the town would have to spend on the project before actual construction of the turbine could begin.
The project will be undertaken by the town and Atlantic Design Engineers, LLC, who has been serving as the town’s consultants on the project, with the provider and installer of the tower to be selected in the near future.
According to information provided by the Clean Energy Center, the feasibility study funded by its grant will include a meteorological study, acoustic study, visual impact analysis and shadow flicker analysis.
The selectmen also voted unanimously to authorize a payment owed to Atlantic for work already performed, for which Valcourt noted had already been budgeted. Valcourt and Town Administrator Michael Coughlin praised Atlantic and the rest of the Alternative Energy Committee for helping to secure the grant funding.
“This is certainly good news for the town,” Coughlin said. “The (application) process was very competitive, and (they) all deserve credit for creating a complete proposal.”
“It’s a wonderful thing,” Valcourt agreed. “I want to congratulate the Energy Committee and the consultant. They did a bang-up job getting the $56,000 in grant funding.”
Valcourt noted that the town still needed to determine whether it would install an 80-meter or 100-meter wind tower. Both he and Alternative Energy Committee Chairman had previously said they favored a 100-meter tower, which Valcourt said was expected to generate roughly $500,000 in revenue each year compared with $440,000 for the 80-foot tower.
The project, however, has been the subject of controversy in town. At a previous public discussion of the matter, for example, resident Walter Barnes expressed public health and safety-related concerns, saying the project could have considerable visual and noise effects, and that the turbine could cause electromagnetic interference to radio signals in the area.
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