Town officials are working to see if there is a spot in Duxbury that might be the perfect site for a municipal wind turbine that would provide the town with clean, renewable energy.
The Alternative Energy Committee worked with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to obtain a $65,000 grant for a feasibility study, according to member Jim Goldenberg. This, after a preliminary study called a site assessment, was done last year, looked at several sites around town to see if there was any potential for a windmill in Duxbury.
“What that study did was it took half a dozen possible sites and did a desktop analysis of their suitability for wind turbines, to see if any of the sites qualify for further study,” Goldenberg said.
That study recommended the area between the DPW yard behind Town Hall and North Hill as a good site for a turbine.
“Generally, being a coastal community, Duxbury has pretty good wind,” Goldenberg said. “It’s where is a wind turbine going to be most appropriate and where is it going to have the least negative impact … You also don’t want to build it too far our where it’s going to be a prohibitive amount of money to connect it to the grid.”
There was originally talk of building a temporary tower that could measure wind data, known as a MET tower, on the site. However, Goldenberg said that because there is enough information on weather patterns in this area, the tower won’t be necessary.
“It’s more computer modeling than anything else,” he said.
The feasibility study process, which will take six months, will look at things like wind resources, interconnection and access issues as well as noise generated, aesthetics, and impact on recreation. It will also give the town an idea of what building and maintaining a turbine would cost, and what it would generate in revenue.
“It will give us a relatively detailed pro forma,” Goldenberg said.
Town Meeting last year approved a bylaw that would allow a municipal turbine on town-owned land. However, the article didn’t come with a dime of funding, and the Alternative Energy Committee has sought out grants to fund further study of wind power in Duxbury.
If the town does decide to build a windmill, there are two ways of doing it, Goldenberg said. The town could build and run the turbine themselves, or they could hire a third-party to build and maintain it.
Once the turbine is up, it won’t directly supply power to Duxbury town buildings. Rather, the electricity generated will be credited by NStar, the town’s utility company.
“We’d have the ability to basically put the power back into the grid,” Goldenberg said. “We’re selling electricity back to the utility and they’re applying it to our bills.”
Goldenberg is looking forward to working with SED, Sustainable Energy Development, the company hired to run the feasibility study.
“It’s going to be an interactive process over the next two months,” he said. The committee expects the first round of feedback in a couple months. “We’ll try to zero in on a location.”
If all goes well, the Alternative Energy Committee hopes to bring a proposal to Town Meeting in 2012.
“I think we’re two years away at the earliest,” Goldenberg said.
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