A $50,000 study, funded by a Clean Energy Fund grant, to determine whether a wind turbine would work in Fairfield near the town landfill on One Rod Highway is gathering steam.
But it will likely be another year before the research is completed, according to Fran Hoey, the principal in charge of the study for Tighe and Bond, a Shelton-based company hired by the town to conduct the investigation. The company submitted one of two bids for the study, charging $49,800.
“If it works, we will save a lot of money,” said Ed Boman, the Fairfield assistant director of public works. “We will save a lot on electricity and we won’t have to buy as much fuel.”
Currently, Tighe and Bond is exploring environmental issues, working with the Federal Aviation Administration and determining the impact of a wind turbine on neighboring residents. But, Hoey said, the “nuts and bolts” study will come when the researchers collect and examine wind speed numbers.
However, scheduling issues have slowed the process. The company has to wait for a study to be completed in New Haven before moving the equipment down to Fairfield, Boman said. The wind speed study will not take place until April.
Boman said the process of completing the study to installing the turbine will likely take three years.
If the site is able to support the wind turbine, and it is approved, it would cost $2 million total, with $1 million covered by another grant, according to Department of Public Works Director Richard White. He said the town could see savings of $350,000, meaning it could earn the initial cost back in just three years. The turbine would generate electricity for the neighboring sewage treatment plant.
Hoey said he thinks the “cost avoidance,” by producing energy is typically worthwhile for towns. Also, Hoey said, the current economic climate heavily incentivizes projects that help the environment. Hoey’s company will also conduct a financial analysis to see if a turbine would benefit Fairfield.
The turbine feasibility research was approved by the Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance this summer.
An initial study was conducted by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who determined that the landfill site, as well as a site near the H. Smith Richardson golf course, have enough wind resources for a full study to be conducted. That lead to the Clean Energy Fund Grant.
“It is generally a good site,” Hoey said of the One Rod Highway location. “It is a coastal community and on first blush it is a reasonable site.”
Boman said another issue will be the effect of the turbine on residents in the One Rod Highway area. The study will examine the visual and noise impact, he said. Advances of technology have made turbines more acceptable to residents, said Boman, because the noise is reduced, while the blades do not move as fast, cutting down on issues caused by the sun hitting them.
There are currently no municipally-owned wind turbines in the state. A privately-owned turbine was installed in the New Haven Harbor off of Interstate 95’s Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge (commonly called the Q Bridge). It is owned and operated by Phoenix Press Inc.
One example cited by the town public works department similar to the potential Fairfield turbine exists in Hull, Mass. That turbine was installed in 2001, with annual savings around $250,000.
Boman said he has heard that Phoenix Press is “very happy,” with its investment.
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