IPSWICH – Discussion of a second wind turbine for Town Farm Road is gaining momentum, with a possible vote at October Town Meeting on the new turbine’s location.
Yet, some residents are concerned that the proposed turbine, owned by a private company on land leased from the town, is coming too soon and might be the makings of a wind farm adjacent to Ipswich’s picturesque salt marshes.
Ipswich’s first wind turbine, built in a partnership between the town utility company and public schools, was constructed through the spring and began to generate power in the last week of May. It supplies a small percentage of the town’s electricity needs.
Plans for the second wind turbine will be discussed tonight at separate meetings of the Conservation Commission and the Utility Department’s electric subcommittee.
Unlike the first wind turbine, the new turbine would be a private project, owned, operated and maintained by D&C Construction of Rockland. It would be built on town-owned land, not far from the existing turbine at the end of Town Farm Road.
The town would lease the land to D&C and draw up an agreement to receive wind power the turbine produced, Ipswich Town Manager Bob Markel said.
Through a grant program, D&C could receive “very significant tax incentives” through the project, he said.
“We get the green power at a good price and (revenue from) a land lease,” Markel said.
Going with a privately owned turbine also benefits the town because no money would have to be borrowed for the project, he said. The town borrowed more than $2 million to build the first turbine.
Markel said he had not heard firsthand from opponents of the second turbine project but is “aware of some unhappiness” among residents in the Great Neck area of Ipswich.
Tim Henry, director of the Ipswich Utilities Department, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Discussion of a second wind turbine in Ipswich comes as the same issue has sparked controversy in Salem. Mayor Kim Driscoll’s proposal to build a 380-foot turbine on Winter Island, a city park, has stirred strong opposition from neighbors.
Yet to be decided is where Ipswich’s second turbine would be sited on Town Farm Road.
An article involving a land swap of conservation-restricted land – a possible site for the new turbine – has been drafted for the Oct. 17 Special Town Meeting. The meeting warrant will be finalized this week.
The land swap is required in a proposal to build a wind turbine roughly 1,800 feet away from the existing wind turbine on Town Farm Road. The 66,000-square-foot parcel where the turbine would go is currently held in a conservation restriction by the Conservation Commission.
The swap would transfer a nearby 90,000-square-foot parcel of town-owned land to the Conservation Commission, allowing the wind turbine to be built on the smaller parcel. Along with Town Meeting, Conservation Commission approval would be needed for the project to move forward.
Markel said yesterday that it’s possible the land swap warrant article will not make it to Town Meeting. The turbine could be built on a different town-owned parcel, in the same area of Town Farm Road, he said.
“There might be another approach to this that would not require a land swap,” Markel said. “We’re still trying to come up with what makes the most sense with the fewest amount of problems.”
WIND TURBINE II
Plans for a second wind turbine on Town Farm Road will be discussed at two meetings tonight:
Ipswich Conservation Commission, 7 p.m., Town Hall room A, second floor, 25 Green St.
Ipswich Utility Department’s electric subcommittee, 7 p.m., utilities office, 272 High St.
A report on the proposed land swap of conservation land for the second turbine is posted at ipswichma.gov under “latest news” on the right-hand side.