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Wind consultant defends turbine plan

[Editor’s note: This is a response to the letter “Reader’s View: Is the wind turbine really the best plan?” that ran on Aug. 3, penned by the consultant working with the town.]

As with any publicly funded/public use project, it is necessary for the citizens of Duxbury to be involved in the process that will determine whether a wind turbine installation will proceed, and if so, what form the project will take. Community-scale wind power requires public input in addition to a technical study, such as the one being completed by Sustainable Energy Developments, Inc. (SED), in this case the feasibility study is the initial stage of the wind development process. The town’s feasibility study will provide the scientific information necessary to make an educated decision about any future development efforts. Effective community wind development is a long process with many decision points. The assertion that the community won’t know the full impact of the project “until it’s too late” is incorrect.

The town was awarded a competitive grant from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) for the performance of this study. In June, SED presented potential siting options in a public meeting in order to solicit feedback and focus efforts on socially acceptable sites. These initial locations are currently under review to assess potential benefits and impacts. The details will be presented for discussion when the study is completed this fall, at which time the entire report will be publicly available. Several public meetings will be convened after presentation of the report to discuss the findings of the study, answer questions and decide how or if to proceed.

The three potential sites were selected to balance a project’s potential economic benefits, largely based on wind resource, with the potential impacts to existing land uses including distance from neighboring homes and conservation areas. All of the sites examined have wind speeds in excess of 13 mph at a height of 164 feet above ground level, which is a suitable resource for community-scale wind development according to the MassCEC standards.

SED is committed to developing community-based wind projects that generate local benefits. SED was selected by the town of Duxbury as a consultant to provide the information necessary to make an educated decision. The suggestion that we, SED, as the consultants, are somehow acting only in our own best interest because we are a “for profit” business is incorrect, and we look forward to addressing this confusion in upcoming public meetings.

The ongoing wind power debate in Eastern Massachusetts needs to be held in a respectful and transparent manner. This should be a public conversation that takes into account both the positive and negative experiences people have had with wind projects. There are legitimate concerns that should be addressed though these should not limit the opportunities to move forward with appropriately developed wind projects.

SED believes that there is potential for an economically, technically and socially viable project in the town of Duxbury if so desired. There is a passionate group of people, both elected officials and volunteers on the Energy Committee, who should be commended for working to create a better future for their community and their planet. SED will work closely with this group and all community members, to help the town of Duxbury make a collective decision on wind power.

Matt Vanderbrook

Project Manager, SED Inc.