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Alternative Energy Committee plans to inform North Hill neighbors of wind turbine plans

DUXBURY – Even though they don’t have the results of a feasibility study, Duxbury Alternative Energy Committee members want to prepare the North Hill neighborhood for the possible siting of a wind turbine close to the town-owned golf course.

To that end, in addition to a meeting with the Board of Selectmen, committee members agreed to reach out to Hounds Ditch Lane neighbors, the North Hill Advisory Committee, Sustainable Duxbury and the Cemetery Trustees to set up informational meetings prior to the release of the feasibility study.

While concerns were raised about a wind turbine at the North Hill Golf Course at a public forum in June, committee members believe the response to the preliminary report from the town’s wind energy consultant was primarily positive.

While no decisions have been made about which of the three proposed sites they would support, the North Hill site appears to committee members to be the most feasible. The other two sites are closer to residences, and access would be more difficult.

“I’d be shocked if economically the other two sites work,” Energy Committee member Andre Martecchini said.

The next committee meeting has been scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13, at the Duxbury Senior Center. At that time, committee members hope to be able to review a preliminary report from consultant Matt Vanderbrook of Sustainable Energy Developments.

Committee members expect the final feasibility study results to be available in September or October. Martecchini said it would be best if the feasibility report were to be available for review in September so that the process of preparing a proposal for Town Meeting next March could begin.

The most likely scenario would have the town leasing the wind turbine to a third party responsible for covering the cost of construction, maintenance and operations. The contractor would receive state incentives.

Through a power purchase agreement, the town would in turn get a discount on its electric costs, resulting in lower electricity costs. Leases and power purchase agreements would be proposed at Town Meeting.

The feasibility study was funded through a $65,000 grant from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, formerly the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, to the town last year.

At Town Meeting in March 2010, voters approved a change to zoning bylaws that would permit a wind turbine up to 250 feet tall to be constructed. The tower height is measured from the ground to the top of the turbine blade.

Going forward, Energy Committee Chairman Jim Goldenberg suggested that they might do a market study to gauge public opinion on the proposed sites, an idea that was proposed at the public forum in June. He also talked about the consultant creating virtual looks at how the wind turbine would appear from about half a dozen different locations around town.

He said they should give the consultant some ideas about where he should be looking to offer these different perspectives. The North Hill clubhouse would be a definite, and Duxbury Beach would be another idea.

“I think we need to give them some direction as to locations,” he said.

Committee members anticipate some concern among golfers for a wind turbine at North Hill. Martecchini said he doubts there would be other complaints.

“I think that’s going to be the issue,” he said.

When the feasibility study report is finalized, the committee plans to schedule another public forum, possibly in late September or early October.