Ipswich – About 50 people attended the first Planning Board hearing on the proposed Wind Turbine II last Thursday night.
At the end of the hearing for a special land use permit, the Board wanted answers to questions on the turbine’s effects on noise, storm water, and birds and bats.
The next hearing will convene on Oct. 27.
A Special Town Meeting will be held on Nov. 14 to vote on Article 12, to authorize the Board of Selectmen to enter into a lease of land on 180 Town Farm Road for a wind turbine with D & C Construction of Rockland.
D & C proposes to construct the turbine on town owned land next to Agresource, the composting facility near the old transfer station. The site is already a “disturbed area” filled with a lot of invasive species. It is outside the local Conservation Commission jurisdiction, the Great Marsh and the Area of Critical Environmental Concern and beyond the capped landfill.
The 2 megawatt Hyundai turbine, is 404 feet high, and would be situated 1,500 feet from the existing turbine, which is a 1.6 General Electric turbine, 398 feet tall.
Turbine II would be on land 30 feet higher in elevation.
Meridian Associates, De Rosa Environmental and Aquinergy presented information at the hearing.
Kially Ruiz, Project Consultant of Aquinenergy, said nine bats had been lost at Turbine I since the end of May. A spotlight on the turbine attracted bugs and therefore bats, he said. Since it was turned off on Aug. 15, only one bat has been lost. However, Planning Board member Robert Weatherall said he had found two dead bats on the ground at the site after Aug. 15. He was skeptical about how the dead bats were being counted.
The board also wanted more accoustical information. How loud would the turbine be when the leaves are off the trees? The town’s bylaw says there can be no more than 10 decibels over the existing ambient noise. Dan Cashman, the closest abutter, who uses the property for hunting and camping, was concerned about the noise. Would it have any effect on the deer? He was told no.
Turbines as a “view nuisance” was brought up at the hearing. Ruiz sited a study of 730 residential transactions done in 2010 by Lawrence Berkeley Nation Laboratory, which said there was no statistical data proving that a turbine diminishes the value of the house.
A lawyer for the Reydel family, 64 North Ridge Road, contended that that house value study shouldn’t apply to this area since all locations for the Lawrence Berkley study were in flat areas in the Midwest.
The lawyer also objected that no study had been done of the new site for its suitability for a turbine. Only the Conservation Commission property had been studied, he said.
Ruiz pointed out that the wind turbine would be only 230 feet from the prior site. Moving the turbine 230 feet doesn’t change the climatic conditions of the area, he said. The measurements will be valid for the second turbine.
Although Planning Board Chairman Brian Hone said questions about the turbine’s financial feasibility should be left to the Electric Light Subcommittee, certain financial facts came out at the hearing.
In case D & C went out of business, funds are being set aside in an escrow account to decommission the turbine, said Ruiz.
William Wen of North Ridge Road said the town should be doing a long-term study and making a comprehensive energy plan. The price of electricity from the wind turbine would be twice the cost of electricity bought on the spot market today, he said.
Utilities Director Tim Henry said a long-term contract will bring a long-term stability in rates. The town will know what the price of energy will be in the future. The town will earn $1,030,000 in real estate taxes for 20-year life of the turbine, he said, and it will meet about 4 percent of Ipswich’s electrical needs or about 400 average homes.
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