MENDON – Town officials hope that a small investment in renewable energy now will lead to significant savings in the future.
Selectmen Chairman Lawney Tinio proposed bringing wind power to Mendon after watching turbines pop up in other towns across the state. He is now advocating for a $12,000 yearlong study to determine whether three Mendon locations are suitable for turbines.
Positive results would enable the town to apply for grants to build the turbines, which could pay for themselves by generating money and electricity for the town.
“When I started to look at the major cost benefits to Mendon if we can generate power with wind and offset our municipal electricity cost with it, it’s a huge win,” Tinio said. “But if the numbers (in the study) don’t work, the project doesn’t work.”
Residents will be asked at this month’s special Town Meeting whether to spend $3,000 in free cash on that study. The town would pay another $3,000 next year. A Blackstone resident has agreed to cover the other $6,000, Tinio said.
“His goal is to install his own wind farm,” Tinio said. “The study in Mendon is in close enough proximity to his location that he’ll benefit from it.”
The content of the study will be a public record when it is completed, Tinio said, meaning that the Blackstone donor would have free access to it.
Tinio did not identify the donor.
If funding is secured, Plymouth-based Aeronautica Windpower will test three locations to see if they are windy enough to make a turbine worthwhile. The town is currently eyeing the top of Inman Hill, the town forest off Millville Road and town-owned property along Rte. 16, said Town Coordinator Dale Pleau.
“They wouldn’t be anywhere near the road,” he said. “Towers would be visible, but they wouldn’t be near any inhabited areas.”
Residents have been open to the idea of wind power so far, Tinio said.
“We haven’t had many people against it,” he said. “I haven’t talked with anybody that voiced concerns that would derail the project.”
Questions have been raised about aesthetics and noise. Turbines can be more than 200 feet tall and create a swishing sound.
The article to pay for the wind study is on the warrant for the Feb. 28 special Town Meeting, which will be at 7 p.m. at Miscoe Hill School, 148 North St. There is currently $38,000 in the town’s free cash account.