NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. – Wind power in Northborough is technically feasible, but may not be economically or ecologically viable without further study, according to a recent report.
Last spring, the town chose Sustainable Energy Developments (SED) to investigate the possibility of building wind turbines at Tougas Farm, Davidian Brothers Farm and Mount Pisgah. Using an $85,000 grant from the state’s Wind Incentive Program, the Ontario, New York-based company built a meteorological tower at Tougas Farm and used the data to estimate the effectiveness of six potential turbines within the area.
“Each had different issues,” Town Engineer Fred Litchfield said. “The wind isn’t quite as much as we hoped. SED recorded an average of 5.5 meter per second wind, about 12 miles per hour. A speed of at least 14 miles per hour would have been required to make most of the turbines worthwhile. In the study, low to moderate wind resource was labeled one of “the most significant limiting factors.
“That doesn’t mean it’s completely dead,” Litchfield added.
SED Project Manager Matt Vanderbrook said, “We were able to identify some sites where we could site a medium-level wind turbine.”
To improve project returns, the report’s conclusion suggests the possibility of building two wind turbines, allowing economics of scale to take effect.
The most effective potential turbine was a large-scale 1.8 megawatt turbine installed at Mount Pisgah, the highest point in Northborough. Though the costliest of all the turbines at over $6 million, it paid for itself in the shortest amount of time—9.6 years, compared to 14-16 for the others—and was projected to save the most money overall.
But such a turbine, Vanderbrook said, would create its own issues, due to access challenges and the fact that it would require construction on conservation land. This was also pointed out in the report.
Ultimately, said Litchfield, “It’s really a matter of what the public wants to do.”
The public will have the opportunity to give their input at the Wind Committee meeting on Jan. 11, 2012. A representative from SED will be present.
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