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Too soon for Ipswich Turbine 2

I am writing to voice my concern and great worry about the proposed Wind Turbine 2 in Ipswich. While I commend the town’s efforts to switch to “green energy” sources, I feel that the upcoming special Town Meeting vote, and possible selectmen’s negotiations with the private company are being rushed, with potential detrimental fiscal impact.

Would a conscientious consumer (Ipswich) not want at least a year of experience, through all seasons, to observe and quantify Wind Turbine 1 operating issues, maintenance issues, conservation issues, and power-generation costs compared to the costs of buying clean energy “off the grid”? Ipswich can still be environmentally mindful by buying natural gas, solar, hydro-electric and even wind power from already existing sources. Why must we “reinvent the wheel” at this time and build another turbine without knowing all of the financial risks?

The Electric Department has not experienced a turbine operating during a long, cold, coastal winter. Everything (including my car, house and body) works best in lovely weather. I am aware that the vote on Wind Turbine 2 is being rushed and driven by a Dec. 31 deadline for the private company to take advantage of a 30 percent federal grant ( cash ). Does that mean that the cost of this new electricity will be 30 percent less than that generated by Wind Turbine 1 for the Ipswich consumer? If not, why is the town committing itself for the benefit of a private company?

I would also question why the selectmen would consider a contract of leasing valuable land for only one dollar per year. The town will receive $1 million dollars in property taxes over 20 years. There is no guarantee that the private company will remain in business for 20 years. Also, why would the town charge its own citizens of Little Neck both an annual lease fee and property taxes, but not charge a for-profit company? I am very disturbed that a “yes” vote at the special Town Meeting would give the selectmen a blank check to negotiate a contract in a very rushed fashion to meet the Dec. 31 deadline.

I can appreciate that the electric department wants to hedge its bets against rising energy costs. But it is not fiscally responsible to lock in a contractual rate that is more than double that of today’s rate, for 20 years? Several years ago, I thought I was being smart and fiscally responsible, locking in a heating oil rate for the season, because the buzz was that oil prices would skyrocket. Guess what – rates actually went down, due to economic factors out of my control. I ended up paying three times that of my neighbors who paid their bill monthly. Never again for me – and that was for only one year, I didn’t lock in for a 20-year commitment.

I also understand that Ipswich must acquire the “asset” (Wind Turbine 2 ) in order for the private company to secure its financing. Has anyone on the Planning Board or selectmen analyzed this issue? During what year would the town be required to acquire Wind Turbine 2 and who makes that decision? A wise, for-profit company would only turn over an asset when it is no longer profitable. Why would Ipswich want turbine ownership, with all its accompanying responsibility and risks, at a late-stage in the turbine life cycle? As owners, would not the town then be responsible for the decommissioning costs at the end of 20 years (at half the cost of construction )?

There are many fiscal concerns and too many unknowns to proceed with this private project. I am also heartbroken how wind turbines change the character of the view of The Great Marsh. It is a rare sight on the eastern seaboard, where a person can see the sun set into a natural landscape. Ipswich has such a treasure. Viewed from all along Jeffreys Neck Road and Great Neck are views of The Great Marsh, unimpeded by construction – with the exception of Wind Turbine 1.

I moved to Ipswich in May 2010 to this rare and amazing place. I see multiple cars every night there is a sunset, stopping on the causeway to Great Neck, with people observing the sky in amazement or unloading kayaks for a quick ride. This treasured view is not only appreciated by those of us lucky enough to live here, but also by anyone who wants to use the public Eagle Hill boat ramp or stop on Jeffreys Neck Road.

Wind Turbine 1 is here and hopefully will be beneficial for the town. I also know that Ipswich, like so many municipalities, is in desperate need of new sources of funding. This is not the project to generate more funds. Please consider the Wind Turbine 2 fiscal concerns I have raised, and also the impact of building 400-foot towers on the precious Great Marsh, where views are treasured by so many. Please vote “no” at the Special Town Meeting on Nov. 14. – Patricia H. Bodenstab, Northridge Road