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NORTHBORO – With winds speeds less than expected and a payback period more than predicted, the Wind Turbine Committee said last night there were no immediate plans to proceed with wind energy, but the committee will remain intact as a renewable energy committee.
A feasibility study done by Sustainable Energy Developments of Ontario, N.Y., was released late last year. The results were disappointing in that after three years of work by the committee, several scenarios with various-sized turbines at Ball Hill or Mount Pisgah showed winds were not strong enough to warrant a turbine.
The committee was charged with investigating whether a wind turbine would be useful is offsetting the town’s – and schools’ – electricity bills. In 2010, the town’s annual electric bill was $900,000, and a wind turbine might have covered about one-third of those costs.
However, wind turbines were estimated to cost between $2.2 million and $7.3 million to build, depending on the size of the turbine, and the payback period for a wind turbine ranged from nine to 15 years, respectively – more than twice as long as the committee had hoped.
Wind speeds in the targeted areas – Tougas Farm and Davidian Brothers Farm, both on Ball Hill, and Mount Pisgah – ranged from 5.3 meters per second to 6.05 meters per second, which is below or just meeting the 6 meters per second required to be considered for development grants from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.
Matt Vanderbrook of SED and committee members said the study, while it didn’t produce positive results, was not a waste.
“The wind data is always good; the feasibility study is always good. The market can change,” Mr. Vanderbrook said, adding that technology can improve and the parts for the turbines may become more affordable in the future. “This information will still be valuable.”
“When we began looking at this, we were asking, does this make sense or doesn’t it make sense, and the answer is no,” said Joseph McNamara, co-chairman of the Wind Turbine Committee.
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