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Since the results would not yield enough energy to break even, economically, for at least ten years, the town has decided against wind power.
It was probably not a surprise to anyone who read the preliminary studies, but the Wind Committee officially put the brakes on any plans to erect a wind turbine in the town of Northborough. For now.
As Northborough Patch reported in December, according to preliminary studies performed by Sustainable Energy Developments, proposed sites for a wind turbine in Northborough would take 10 to 15 years to yield any return on capital investment.
Representatives from Sustainable Energy Developments (SED), which was contracted by the town, presented its findings to a public meeting of the Wind Committee on Wednesday night at the Town Hall.
Working from an $85,000 grant provided to the town by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MCEC), SED studied six proposed sites, including Mt. Pisgah, Tougas Farm and a piece of land owned by the New England Forestry Foundation. The town wanted to study the possibility of powering municipal buildings (such as the police department, fire department and local schools).
Twelve months of data yielded a range that fell between 5.38 meters per second to 6.05 meters per second, the best at Mt. Pisgah. To receive federal money for a wind turbine project, the minimum must hit 6.0 meters per second.
But even as the best of the bad scenarios, building on Mt. Pisgah would pose other challenges, including being located two miles off the road, as well as conservation land that would require a town and federal vote to allow building.
Even after it was clear the Committee, and town, did not intend to continue pursuing the wind power option, residents (many who came well armed with research) voiced opposition and questioned the respresentatives with clear skepticism. Many pointed to other failed attempts in other Massachusetts towns.
“It’s the most expensive way to generate electricity, compared to coal, oil or anything else,” said resident Michael Long.
Another resident commented, “If you view the minutes for January and February for the town of Hull, the town manager is asking the operator why it was that a turbine that was slated to cost 1.8 million actually cost 3.6 million, and if the taxpayers knew that, they’d be angry.”
“We have wind turbines where the revenue outweighs the expenses,” said Matt Vanderbrook from SED.”One of the things that we’re excited about in the community wind market is we’re seeing new technologies. You start to see new technologies and adapt the improvements made and scale them down to smaller ones, and it’s starting to be more and more beneficial. It seems the town won’t go forward with anything at this stage, but the feasibility study stays. Electricity rates are going to go up, and products change. This information is still valuable and valid.”
Since the entire $85,000 for the feasibility study was not used, the Wind Committee is deciding whether to continue further phases of the study. If not, said Town Engineer Fred Litchfield, the grant money “does not go to the town. It stays with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.”
Joseph McNamara, Wind Committee co-chair, thanked everyone for coming, and added that the committee had received feedback, pro and con, and “we’ve looked at every single one. Keep those cards and letters coming.”
McNamara said he hoped the committee would continue to work in the town in other capacities, but the wind turbine project, at this time, would lay dormant.
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