November 25, 2010

Developer seeks to build two wind turbines in Plymouth

By Frank Dicesare, For The Patriot Ledger, 24 November 2010

QUINCY – When it comes to finding renewable energy solutions in Plymouth, the answers are blowing in the wind.

At least that’s what wind turbine developers like Sumul Shah believe.

Shah, president of the Wilmington-based Solaya Energy LLC, has teamed up with Palmer Capital of Cohasset to form Pilgrim Wind LLC, a company seeking to build two wind turbines in the woods behind Plymouth’s waste- water treatment plant. The project is one of a number of wind turbine proposals that are currently being considered by Plymouth officials.

The Pilgrim Wind project is proposed as a 10-year partnership with the town. Shah said his company will sell power to the town’s facilities at a fixed rate of 12.5 cents per kilowatt hour. He added that his company will also pay the town an annual lease of $200,000 for the use of its land.

After 10 years, the town will have the choice to either buy the turbines at fair market value or put their ownership out to bid. If the latter option is chosen, the town will have the opportunity to continue purchasing energy from the turbines’ new owner at an agreed-upon rate.

“This is a win-win between the Plymouth community and the developers,” Shah said. “The town doesn’t really have to pay anything for the development of this project. … We, the developers, will do that. In exchange, we get to use the town’s property to sell power to the town at a pretty attractive rate.”

Shah said the height of Pilgrim Wind’s turbines has yet to be determined. Nevertheless, he added that power generated from each turbine will be similar to the energy created by Hull Wind 2, an enormous turbine that can be seen clearly from George Washington Boulevard near the Hingham-Hull town line.

“My guess is that they will be a little taller than Hull Wind 2,” Shah said. “We are going to permit for a range of different size possibilities and ultimately settle on the technology that makes the most sense for the wind resource on site. What we will probably do is get the project permitted under a process that allows us a little bit of flexibility in selecting the exact model.”

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center recently awarded Solaya and Palmer Capital a $400,000 design and construction grant to assist with the project’s development. Shah estimated that the Pilgrim Wind project will cost from $8 million to $10 million to build. If erected, the turbines are expected to save Plymouth’s town-owned properties about $330,000 a year in energy costs.

Pilgrim Wind’s proposal is one of many turbine projects under review with Plymouth town officials. Balboni LLC has plans for a turbine at 125 Camelot Drive. Future Generation Wind, which has already had a three-turbine project approved for Bournehurst Drive, has a fourth turbine proposed for the site, which is pending with the town’s zoning board of appeals.

Also under consideration with the town’s zoning board is Sustainable New Energy’s proposal to build two turbines at 143 Hedges Pond Road, Colony Place Development LLC’s plans for a roughly 300-foot turbine to be built in the vicinity of 120 Colony Place, and Sheava LLC’s plans for a turbine at 8 Scobee Circle in Plymouth’s Industrial Park.

Though it may seem that Plymouth is poised to become the Bay State’s model for wind energy, most of the town’s turbine projects have been met with opposition from nearby residents. Lee Hartmann, Plymouth’s director of planning and development, estimated that from 50 to 170 concerned residents have attended town hall meetings with turbine developers.

“In almost every case, neighbors have voiced their concerns about noise, the flicker of the light from the rotating blades and aesthetics,” Hartmann said. “These are significant concerns and the town needs to consider them.”

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