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Ipswich wind turbine up for vote

IPSWICH – The proposal to build a second wind turbine on Town Farm Road needs approval from several different town bodies, the first of which could be Special Town Meeting on Monday.

An article to authorize selectmen to lease a town-owned parcel on Town Farm Road for the purpose of building a wind turbine is the fourth, and last, item on Monday’s warrant.

The Special Town Meeting – Ipswich’s second in as many months – will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the performing arts center at Ipswich High School, 134 High St.

The wind turbine, a source of controversy with some in town, is sure to be the evening’s main attraction. The first three articles on the warrant deal with housekeeping-type budget and bylaw changes.

A similar article on the wind turbine was pulled from the warrant the night of Ipswich’s Oct. 17 Town Meeting because of a technicality: The turbine’s proposed location was listed on the warrant with an out-of-date lot and parcel number.

Ipswich’s first wind turbine, built in a partnership between the town utility company and public schools, was constructed on Town Farm Road through the spring and began to generate power in the last week of May. The proposed second turbine would also be built at the end of Town Farm Road.

The Utility Department’s electric light subcommittee is currently negotiating an agreement with D&C Construction of Rockland to purchase 100 percent of the power a new turbine would produce. D&C has also applied for a special permit from the Planning Board to build the turbine.

D&C’s latest pricing proposal for the turbine’s power was rejected by the electric subcommittee, but negotiations are by no means over, said Jim Engel, a former selectman and member of the subcommittee.

“This is a process that was not expected to be completed, necessarily, in one offer and acceptance interaction,” Engel said. “It would have been nice if it had come out that way, but it didn’t.”

“I think there are some that would say the project is dead, which is far, far, far from the truth,” he said. “We expect a little back and forth.”

Engel will make a presentation on the turbine project at Town Meeting. He stressed that Monday’s vote is simply on the lease of town-owned land for a possible turbine, with no connection to a specific developer or design.

If Town Meeting approves Article 4 on Monday night, selectmen would have the power to draft a lease of up to 25 years.

The turbine would also need a special permit for construction from the Planning Board, a special permit from selectmen to allow the private developer to operate the turbine, and the successful negotiation of a purchase-power agreement with the electric subcommittee.

“There is still some momentum behind (the turbine project),” said Tim Henry, director of Ipswich’s utility department. “The electric subcommittee is firm in that they want to ensure the ratepayers get a good deal out of this.”

Staff writer Bethany Bray can be reached at bbray@salemnews.com and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.


When: Monday, Nov. 14, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Ipswich High School, 134 High St.


Warrant posted at www.ipswichma.gov

Q&A on proposed wind turbine posted at www.ipswichutilities.org