SAGAMORE – There are two new landmarks on the Bourne landscape. Yes. They are turbines. No. They’re not in Buzzards Bay. And yes, they are dominant landmarks that change the canal area vista.
The Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment last week announced two turbines are up near the PAVE PAWS radar installation on Flat Rock Hill next to Sagamore. They have become instant signature touches for military operations on the base.
In the next few weeks, electrical work will be undertaken, including construction of a power station and turbine connections to the area’s electric-transmission grid.
The Air Force says the Camp Edwards turbines will start operation in October. For now, some Sagamore villagers say the structures are good neighbors; that is, they say, the turbines are not intrusive and won’t affect property values.
The structures can be seen from the Bourne Bridge four miles away. They dominate the town’s eastern vista, and Bournedale residents fighting industrial-grade turbines in their backyard say they can see the Camp Edwards structures from parts of their own neighborhood.
The Air Force is promoting its turbines, estimated to save the AFCEE $1 million each year in electricity costs. Combining that total with the existing turbine at Otis Air National Guard Base, the savings will almost pay for annual electric costs of $1.7 million.
The government also touts the green-energy aspects of the alternative-energy structures, saying they tie in nicely with groundwater remediation programs. The turbines will absorb electric costs for the massive ground water effort on the Massachusetts Military Reservation. The Air Force claims that as the clean up effort continues, with new pumping stations and remediation systems added to its operations, the AFCEE would produce more electricity than it uses.
The turbines stand 400 feet tall and cost $9.36 million to construct. In comparison, the four Ingersoll-Lorusso turbines planned off Scenic Highway across the canal at Buzzards Bay would stretch 495 feet into the air to the tip of their blades.
The Camp Edwards turbines were manufactured by General Electric. They are 1.5-megawatt structures.
“The Air Force led clean-up team of private, local, state and federal agencies and numerous other parties worked together, making this project become a reality,” said Terry Yonkers, assistant Air Force secretary.
The turbines are striking in terms of vista change. This is the first such impact on the area since the Air Force built and opened the PAVE PAWS facility in the late 1970s.
Plans for the turbines now in place, plus others, were presented to Sagamore residents last year in a hearing that featured no opposition from residents. Only a few households would actually view the structures.
Scenic impacts, meanwhile, are a key feature in the proposed Buzzards Bay turbines. A Cape Cod Commission sub-committee reviewing the 8-megawatt wind-farm proposal says the prominence of turbines 4 and 5 are of concern to the land-use planning agency because they may not be consistent with visual-impact aspects of the Cape’s regional policy plan.
The Camp Edwards turbines did not face that sort of critical examination and review given that the federal government was the chief proponent and beyond review by the Cape commission.
The base turbines represent continued state and federal capital reinvestment in the installation’s operations, which include Air Station Cape Cod and the Air National Guard’s 102nd Intelligence Wing with its 1,093 employees and $6.7million payroll to 90 Bourne residents.
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