WESTPORT – Behind the new fire station at 54 Hixbridge Road, a sharp, but not too loud, “beep” can be heard every second or so as a squat, heavy plastic device measures wind velocity for a windmill that some in town hope will be located behind the station.
“The unit measures wind shear, wind direction, wind turbulence, wind speed,” Selectman Brian Valcourt said.
The unit operates using Sodar, a technology that operates the way sonar systems do, sending sound waves upward into the air and recording the returning waves to determine variances in a variety of wind characteristics.
The monitoring device, powered by a solar panel, was installed recently and sits in a wooded area
“This is a rental,” Valcourt said of the unit. “We paid $10,000 for six weeks.”
Valcourt said grant money and funds appropriated from the Town Meeting paid for the rental, which he said is a bargain.
“It’s normally $30,000 for six weeks, but the company had no data for this area, and the equipment was idle right now, so we got a significant discount,” Valcourt said.
“Each beep means it’s taking a snapshot,” he said.
Valcourt said he hopes to see a power-producing wind turbine 600 feet in back of the fire station.
“Maybe a year,” he said. “We’d need a Town Meeting to approve a bond, and a general election.”
Valcourt said the first goal would be for a wind turbine to provide power to the fire station.
“Then, if we have excess power, we can sell it,” Valcourt said.
He said money made by selling excess power could be credited to various town accounts.
The land behind the fire station, where Valcourt said a wind turbine might someday sit, is currently used as a drainage area for a nearby cemetery.
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