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Northborough Wind Committee work is done, for now

NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. – Now that Northborough will not be developing wind energy anytime soon, the future of the Wind Committee is in doubt.

Members of the Board of Selectmen, however, insisted that Wind Committee co-chairs Robert Giles and Joseph McNamara stay involved in town government, in light of their much-lauded efforts to gather information about wind power.

“We really need more people with your types of attitudes and dedication,” said Selectmen Chair Jeff Amberson.

Said Selectman William Pantazis: “You kind of opened up my eyes … to alternative energy.”

After many months of study, McNamara and Giles came before the Board of Selectmen last night to deliver their final recommendation to the town regarding wind energy, which was that the town discontinue attempts at using wind power and instead pursue conservation efforts and, possibly, alternative sources.

According to Wind Committee member Richard Jones, a wind feasibility study done by Sustainable Energy Development (SED) determined that, of the six wind turbine locations considered, only one on Mount Pisgah had enough wind to support a turbine that could pay for itself within a decade.

“We were kind of hoping for a four to six year impact,” Jones said. “You can’t really raise your hand and justify a 15-year payback.” He added that other costs, such as the cost of creating access to a potential turbine on Mount Pisgah, we’re also unexpectedly high.

Many members of the Board of Selectmen expressed their disappointment with the weak wind results.

“I think if the people of Northborough wanted to invest in something like this, they would want to see a more immediate payback,” said Selectman Leslie Rutan.

The Board, however, lauded the Wind Committee’s research.

“You guys clearly have the data,” Selectmen Chair Jeff Amberson said. “I think the data supports your conclusions.”

Though the town will not pursue wind power, many at the meeting felt that the data gathered in the feasibility study was still useful. McNamara said that residents who did not know how much money the town spends on electricity annually now know that the number is between $900,000 and $1 million, thanks to this study. He added that the data could have many uses in the future as Northborough formulates its energy policy.

“It may be worth revisiting again,” he said.