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Ipswich wind turbine arrives on Town Farm Road

Ipswich – For those who missed the final unit of the “turbine parade” in Lord Square last Friday afternoon, be heartened. There may be another chance to view monster turbine components snaking through town in the future.

The base of the turbine finally made it through the square after getting hung up for an hour on School Street, but the 25-30 people gathered at the announced time of arrival had dwindled to just a few to cheer it down the homestretch.

The base was set in place on Tuesday, and within 10 days the town’s first wind turbine will stand completed, according to Utilities Director Tim Henry.

A second turbine nearly made it to the Town Warrant but was pulled when the Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee had questions.

At issue is a proposed land swap near the site of the first turbine at the end of Town Farm Road.

The second turbine, if built, would be privately owned by D&C Construction of Rockland, the same company erecting the first turbine. Ipswich would lease the land to D&C, and the Light Department would purchase the energy output at a pre-determined price.

D&C had its eye on a hill that is currently designated conservation land. According to Conservation Commission Chairman David Standley, changing the designation of conservation land requires a vote by the state Legislature. “There is to be no net loss of conservation land so a land swap has to be for land of comparable conservation value,” he said.

D&C had identified a potential swap, a parcel that is located adjacent to the current turbine site. It is land currently set aside for general municipal use.

Standley said the ConsCom required an analysis of comparability to assure it was a sound swap. “We don’t need to rush into this at this time,” he said, but added he wasn’t saying the second turbine wouldn’t happen. “The ConsCom is not opposed to it,” he said.

Henry said that on an average day, the town uses 17.7 megawatts of power. The new turbine will generate 1.6 megawatts, and a second turbine would generate the same or a little more. Ten megawatts are available at the power plant if running the generators would produce power cheaper than buying it off the grid, but with fuel prices skyrocketing, that is unlikely.

Henry said the land swap question has now been passed to the town’s Land Disposition Committee, which is composed of all the department heads.

“The timing of this on the warrant wasn’t good,” he said, adding he has been overwhelmed and distracted with getting the first turbine to Ipswich and up and running and didn’t have the time to devote to questions about a second turbine.

As for a second turbine parade in the future he said, “I won’t be so anxious about it – it won’t be my turbine.”