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Man considers home turbine

BECKET – A local man is considering constructing a wind turbine on his property, taking advantage of new state regulations regarding wind technology.

Kenneth Smith, of George Carter Road, is in the process of applying for state grants to begin testing the feasibility of a wind turbine, a turbine that could supply power to neighbors, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, the Y’s camp and town facilities.

“I feel strongly that renewable energy is an important part of our society at this point,” said Smith. “We need to wean ourselves off fossil fuel.”

Smith has had an interest in building a turbine for several years, but decided the potential was greater now because of new “net metering” regulations put in place by the state that allow for greater flexibility in selling and producing wind energy.

Smith said he is interested in creating a consortium to share the turbine’s costs and benefits with the Pillow and other neighbors. Becket has been designated a “Green Community” by the state, and the inclusion of the town, whose Selectmen earlier this week gave their preliminary support, could also increase the percentage of grant funding Smith would receive for his project.

Smith plans to apply for a grant from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, whose deadline is Jan. 30.

Town officials and representatives from the Pillow were not immediately available for comment.

Smith, who also runs a cabinet
shop on his property, already has two towers – a cell tower and an old radio tower for the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority – on his land. Smith likes the look of wind turbines, but said, because of the existing towers, he doesn’t expect the same sort of public outcry that other proposals have aroused.

“The impact on the viewscape would be less than if it was on a totally undeveloped hill,” said Smith.

And though Smith is far from knowing how large a turbine he could build or how many users he could service, he is quick to point out this will not be a large-scale wind farm.

“This is not a miniature power company,” said Smith. “It’s a group effort to put up a self-contained unit that would be used by a finite number of groups.”