A 400-foot wind turbine could be powering the Plymouth County Correctional Facility as soon as next fall.
Sheriff Joseph McDonald said proposals for the project are due next month and construction could begin as soon as August on the Vestas V-90 turbine just off the southeast corner of the jail, near Exit 5 off Route 3.
The 1.8-megawatt turbine would have a 262-foot tower with a 148-foot blade, giving the structure an overall height of 410 feet.
The state Division of Capital Asset Management is overseeing the project and estimates the cost of the project at $5 million to $5.5 million. The final cost will be funded through state bonds.
The turbine is expected to generate 88 percent of the jail’s overall electrical needs at an annual savings of $596,160.
In addition, the project anticipates annual excess metering credits of $59,471 and annual renewable energy credit of $67,578, for an annual cost avoidance of $723,209.
The excess metering credits would pay the jail whenever it produces more energy than it is using at night. The renewable energy credits are incentives for using green energy.
McDonald initiated the turbine project five years, setting up a test tower on County Farm property just east of Route 3. Months of testing proved the site would be an exceptional location for a turbine.
The plan has always assumed the construction of the turbine to the west of Route 3, far from residential neighborhoods between the highway and the jail.
The state took over the project after taking over the Sheriff’s Department last year.
McDonald said some preliminary permitting has already been done on the project. The FAA has determined it will not impact flight patterns and the power company has approved connections.
The winning bidder would be responsible for completing all other permitting.
McDonald said the state is exempt from some permitting but the plan would, nonetheless, proceed through regular local approval channels, as a courtesy. An architect working on the project said the turbine may need conservation approval but has already passed an acoustic study and flicker analysis.
“It definitely has a nice buffer area. I don’t think there are any barriers at this point,” Nick Ferzacca said.
The schedule calls for construction proposals to be submitted to the state by June 13. Construction would start in August with completion by August 2012. The turbine is expected to be operational by November 2012.
McDonald said the turbine is expected to produce 4,827 megawatt hours (MWh) annually. That’s enough energy to power 430 residential homes. The 1,500-inmate jail utilizes 5,462 MWh per year.
“We’re very excited by the prospect. We started standing in a cornfield five years ago dreaming about this type of project. When you see the savings possible here I think this is a huge asset we’re finally going to be able to take advantage of,” McDonald said.
“Obviously there will always be people who don’t like any change in the landscape but I think people are going to look at this as a thing of beauty, a landmark for people going to the Cape, for the next generation of tourists going to Cape Cod,” McDonald added. “It’s a wonderful thing financially. It’s a wonderful thing architecturally. And I think it is a great example that, hopefully, other agencies, and correctional facilities in particular, will avail themselves of going forward.”
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