Voters in Alton and Barnstead going to the polls in the March will see a warrant article seeking approval from the voters to allow Prospect Mountain High School to begin the second phase of a study to see if a wind turbine would be beneficial in lowering electricity costs.
Voters in both communities voted last year to begin Phase I of the project and a preliminary study was completed with a favorable result. Phase II of the project would call for the construction of a temporary wind town and conduct a wind study to determine if the area at the school would be suitable for a wind turbine.
“The school contracted with a vendor to look at the site and give advice on whether or not it was a viable site,” said Prospect Mountain Business Administrator Chuck Stuart. “After the study, it was determined that it was.”
Stuart said if it was determined the school was a good location for a permanent turbine, the idea would be to install a wind turbine somewhere on the campus of the high school to generate electricity which would be sold back to the power grid to help offset expenses and reduce the overall electrical bill of the school.
“The ultimate objective is to save the taxpayers money,” said Stuart. “The objective is to take the $180,000 we spend a year on electricity and cut it down to $120,000.”
The warrant article has a price tag of around $27,000 which would be split evenly between the two towns to cover the cost of the study and construct a temporary tower. In order to do this type of investment, Stuart said it was important do a study.
“The second phase is to actually put up a temporary tower to collect wind data,” said Stuart. “Items being collect would include wind velocity, days out of the year when there is sufficient wind, what direction the wind comes from and the speed of the wind.”
If the warrant article passes in both towns, data would be collected over one year beginning around July. Based on the data, contractors would determine where the best location would be for the turbine. Knowing how much wind there is on site will also determine how big the generator will end up being.
During Phase II, Stuart said there would be a research process to find out what permits would be needed and which committees or boards the school would have to get permission from to construct the turbine. The overall project was estimated to cost around $250,000 and would be paid off by the savings in electricity.
“It won’t actually cost the taxpayers any money – it’s a self-funding proposal” said Stuart.
He said the generator would be paid for with the savings and would be paid off through savings over the next 10 or 11 years, at which point the towns would begin to save money.
“The superintendent and I are both interested in alternative sources of energy and ways of reducing our budget,” Stuart said.
The school district was also looking to possibly using solar energy, but as of right now, there is very limited payback with solar.
“It’s just too expensive to initiate it and there is no reasonable payback on it,” said Stuart. “There might be in the future and we’re going to continue to study that.”
If a wind turbine is installed, Stuart said the school would look to try and incorporate it into the curriculum at the school by having science classes study some of the wind data and get students involved with the consultant on how wind energy systems operate.
Stuart said the school currently has a small wind measuring unit near one of the athletic fields that is used as part of one of the physics classes. By adding the turbine, Stuart said students would be able to do a more in-depth analysis of wind data.
The exact timeline of the project is uncertain at this point since voters need to vote on the initial warrant article to begin Phase II of the study. If everything goes as planned, the project could appear on the warrant sometime in 2013 or 2014, at which point voters would be asked approve the project.
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