DUXBURY – Hounds Ditch Lane-area residents want answers about a possible wind turbine in their neighborhood that Alternative Energy Committee members say they can’t answer.
Both neighbors and members of the new AEC Wind Subcommittee, however, agreed at a meeting Tuesday morning that they don’t want the adversarial relationship that exists to continue and laid their cards on the table.
“We need to talk more,” Wind Subcommittee Chairman Don Greenbaum said, ackowledging, when challenged, that the AEC made a mistake in terms of how the public was made aware of the turbine project.
“How do we back up and make this right?” Wind Subcommittee member Susan Fontaine said.
Neighbors want to hear that the potential siting of a wind turbine at the North Hill Reservation is off the table due to the potential for the adverse health impacts they say have been documented elsewhere and the threat to their property values due to the wind turbines when it’s time to sell.
Subcommittee members said they want to explore the financial and potential health impacts first. Subcommittee member Jim Goldenberg said they still don’t know if the site is feasible financially. The AEC is still awaiting a final feasibility report from wind consultants Sustainable Energy Consultants, and an investment tax credit the town would qualify is set to expire at the end of the year.
“We’re say 30 days away from understanding the financial dynamics of this,” he said.
The AEC also awaits the results of a state Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Public Health study of the possible health impacts of a wind turbine and a study from Sustainable Energy Consultants on the impact of wind turbines on real estate values.
Goldenberg said the wind turbine could be taken off the table if the AEC’s further study of possible solar energy initiatives in town demonstrate that they would compare financially to what the town would receive in energy savings from the wind turbine.
Hounds Ditch Lane resident Joanne Levesque submitted a new study on the health impacts of infrasound and low frequency sound from two wind turbines in Falmouth on its neighbors to the AEC subcommittee, and she strongly encouraged its members to review both it and the state study.
Levesque has also challenged the decision to not go forward with a meteorological tower study to determine if wind speeds would even be adequate. She maintains that it’s a very important step, as well as one recommended in an earlier study on wind power.
“Unfortunately they skipped that very important step, and that made me question the integrity of the project,” she said.
Levesque said the public has received so many mixed message about a project that has been thrust on them, creating an adversarial relationship, and wants to see an end to these mixed messages.
Subcommittee members answered that based on new information about new technology and the advice of its wind energy consultants, a “met” tower would not be required and would not impact a developer’s decision to enter an agreement with the town to operate the wind turbine.
Three articles on the annual Town Meeting warrant relate to the wind turbine. The first is a placeholder by the Alternative Energy Committee asking voters to hire a wind energy consultant and pay for additional feasibility-related studies.
The other two were submitted by petition and propose changes to the town’s two-year-old wind turbine regulations. The longer of the two petitioned articles was crafted with the assistance of an attorney. One of the two of the petitioned articles could be withdrawn.
The Planning Board will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9, at the Duxbury Senior Center for the petitioners to present their warrant articles, but first the Wind Subcommittee wants to meet with them.
If they don’t meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 9, as tentatively scheduled to determine if the AEC could support the warrant articles, Town Planner Tom Broadrick said the Planning Board could continue the hearing to Monday, Jan. 23.
An acoustics study and bird and bat study are the two studies subcommittee members are considering. Greenbaum said he will consult with officials from the Massachusetts Audubon Society for suggestions about how to conduct the bird and bat study.
One of the goals of the subcommittee Tuesday was to identify sites for a balloon float and visual similation to give residents and idea of the visibility of a turbine from different places around town.
Among the suggestions were Powder Point Bridge, Clark’s Island, Standish Monument, Bay Farm Field, Duxbury High School, fields on East Street and Hounds Ditch Lane. Neighbors were offered the opportunity to suggest locatations along Hounds Ditch Lane.