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Ipswich turbine project ‘up in the air’

Ipswich – D & C Construction’s proposal to build a second wind turbine on Town Farm Road faces an uncertain future and the emphasis of next Monday’s Special Town Meeting has changed, following the Monday, Nov. 7 Board of Selectmen meeting.

Residents will now be asked to vote simply on whether the town wants to get involved in a second wind turbine period, but not necessarily one proposed by D & C.

The Board of Selectmen will convene an informational meeting on the turbine 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10, in Town Hall.

Article 4 on the special Town Meeting warrant asks meeting goers to authorize the Selectmen to lease property at 180 Town Farm Road for a second turbine.

Jim Engel, a member of the Electric Light Subcommittee told the Selectmen Monday night that the subcommittee has rejected D & C Construction’s offer for the price the company will sell the energy from the turbine they proposed to build. The offer did not meet the subcommittee’s criteria that the price should be a better deal than Turbine I.

D & C spokesmen said they were running out of time and they had until the end of December to buy the turbine in order to qualify for a government grant. They said they would not put together another offer but asked the town to do so instead. They would then decide if they could meet that offer.

Engel told the Selectmen the town could continue to work with D & C, but said a wider search, if approved at Town Meeting would be beneficial.

“It allows us to create some competition. If not D & C,” Engel said, “another company might make a proposal to the town.”

Selectman Bill Craft asked Engel if analysis had therefore been done on Wind I. Engel replied that the analysis had proved to be more complicated than had been anticipated. Green energy, he said, will always be above market price. “How much above market is the town willing to stand?” he asked.

The board had a “pretty good feeling for what the counter offer should be,” Engel said. But since it wasn’t a good idea to show D & C it’s cards while negotiating and would not make the figures public during negotiations. The final deal will be public, he said.

There are also three other articles to be voted on at the Nov. 14 special Town Meeting.

Article 1 amends the 2012 Town Budget. It appropriates $75,331 to the Facilities Department for capital improvements mostly to the Town Hall, along with renovations to the foyer and rest room at the Cemetery Department.

The money comes from $38,590 from the state’s budget surplus, $50,000 from the Electric Light Department’s payment in lieu of taxes or Pilot program and $48,465 from available, unappropriated funds. In May, town funds were preserved in case of any last-minute reduction in state aid. This year, however, state aid was increased. The funds must be appropriated prior to setting the tax rate in December.

Article I will also transfer $30,650 in free cash to the Foeffees Legal Services and $5,298 for printing and postage costs for the Finance Committee Report for the Oct. 17 special Town Meeting.

Article 2 will amend the School Budget to appropriate $121,303 to the Other Post Employment Funds Benefits Line and for professional development.