PLYMOUTH – Wind power is not coming to Plymouth North High School, but more solar energy may be on the school horizon.
The School Committee unanimously rejected a plan Monday to erect a wind turbine on the school campus, citing a desire to be a good neighbor.
School officials said they may pursue expanded solar power possibilities at the new school instead.
The vote came after impassioned pleas from residents who live around the school to respect their health and wellbeing and abandon the project.
It also followed a report from Superintendent Gary Maestas that the turbine would have no impact on the environmental rating for the new school and would not result in any greater reimbursement from the state.
Maestas said the School Department would need to install an enormous turbine to secure a platinum LEED certification, a rating that measures optimal environmental friendliness in construction projects. Maestas said the new school will open in the fall with a gold rating, instead, and will still be one of the most environmentally progressive structures in the state or country.
More than three-dozen neighbors attended the meeting. Several spoke in opposition to the proposed turbine.
Neighbors said the turbine would cause noise and flicker problems and pose threats to birds and people. Some applauded the school system for trying to be environmentally responsible, but warned that the proposed site overlooking school ball fields would be dangerous and irresponsible.
Several School Committee members echoed the neighbors’ sentiments.
Chairman Dennis Begley said he didn’t think the proposal made sense from a business perspective and agreed the school was a bad site.
Committee member Debra Betz said she was most concerned about being a good neighbor, especially since residents have already endured hardships during the construction process.
Margie Burgess, who grew up in the neighborhood, said there are plenty of better sites for a turbine in town.
Business Manager Gary Costin said he is already working on a proposal to generate energy by adding more solar panels to the school roof. The construction project includes solar arrays on the gymnasium roof. Costin said he is looking into proposals to spread similar arrays over the entire roof.