NORTHBOROUGH – Selectmen agreed last night with the Wind Committee’s conclusion that a wind turbine is not feasible for the town.
“I think the data supports your conclusion … (and) I can’t thank you enough for taking this on,” selectmen Chairman Jeff Amberson told committee members following their final report. “I think it needs to be said that I don’t think anybody went into this with preconceived notions.”
Earlier this month, after analyzing a consultant’s report on wind speeds at Ball Hill, the Wind Committee determined that building a financially and logistically practical wind turbine to offset the town’s energy costs is not a good idea.
Committee member Richard Jones said the committee had initially hoped the project would pay for itself within four to six years. But after readings of a meteorological tower perched atop Ball Hill for the past year yielded low wind speeds, those hopes were dashed.
“You can’t really raise your hand and justify a 15-year payback on a project of this type,” he said.
Jones said the good news is that the 3-year process the committee undertook was done without any direct cost to the town.
The meteorological tower was funded by an $85,000 grant from the state’s Wind Incentive Program, and Town Administrator John Coderre said that – unlike many resident-initiated projects – the committee did the heavy lifting here.
“It was not a staff-driven project,” Coderre said. “This is exactly the way the process is supposed to work.”
Selectman Leslie Rutan was one of the town officials who made it out to Ball Hill in August 2010 for a ribbon-cutting at the meteorological tower.
“There was a certain spirit to (the day). It felt like there was something kind of neat and different we could do to offset our energy costs,” she said of the event, which was attended by state Rep. Harold Naughton Jr., D-Clinton and state Sen. Harriet Chandler, D-Worcester.
“In a way, it’s kind of sad, but I do have to agree with the outcome,” Rutan said.
Selectman Aaron Hutchins thanked members of the board – which had taken some heat from a group of residents opposed to the project – for their professionalism and dedication.
“I know I for one can stop receiving emails from concerned citizens that Northborough might erect a wind (turbine),” he said.
Coderre said the committee will be dissolved, but a new committee with similar membership dedicated to exploring and promoting other possible energy-saving avenues could be formed in the future.
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