PLYMOUTH – Keith Mann is trying. Brian Kuhn is trying. James Sweeney tried.
But, while others try and wade through the appeals process, Joe Balboni will be the first to actually erect a wind turbine in Plymouth.
It may have something to do with the fact that he’s locating the turbine in Camelot Industrial Park off Long Pond Road, and not in or near a residential area.
“We’re the first one in Plymouth,” Balboni said. “It will be 375 feet to the tip of the blades. I have a group of three other investors that will own, manage and run the wind turbine.”
The partners put up personal funds and received financing from three banks and a Small Business Association loan to fund the $4 million, 1.5-megawatt turbine, which Balboni said should be paid off in 10 years.
“It’s almost like a real estate investment,” Balboni added. “It’s long-term. We’ll see some good profits when the notes are paid off.”
Five years ago, Balboni said he and his current partners knocked around the idea of siting a wind turbine at the industrial park. When a feasibility study confirmed there was enough wind power to make it work, the four decided to move ahead with the plan.
While Plymouth has no wind turbine bylaw, the town requires special permits for structures higher than 35 feet. Balboni and friends obtained the required special permit without too much fanfare, and without the hefty neighborhood protest other projects are experiencing. The neighborhood, in this case, is an industrial park, far from homes. The site backs up to woodlands and is approximately 500 feet from the town’s wastewater treatment plant.
Senate President Therese Murray, D-Plymouth, recently announced that she is against the siting of wind turbines in residential neighborhoods; Balboni’s project, sited in an industrial zone, aligns with her views.
Excavation work to dig the foundation for the structure begins in just two weeks. The tower is expected to arrive sometime in April.
Middleboro manufacturer Mass Tank is fabricating the 70-meter (228-foot) turbine tower for the company Goldwind USA, which is selling the tower to Balboni. The blades are being manufactured in the south, and the turbine motor will be imported from China.
“We’re fabricating it and we’ll deliver it to the site in three sections,” Mass Tank COO Randy Kupferberg said.
“I’ve lived in Plymouth for 34 years. I used to take my girls to Camelot Park to learn how to drive. We’re excited to get involved with a project that’s so local.”
Mass Tank has just become involved in wind energy projects like this, he added, and the company is poised to expand, adding a work shift and six to 10 full-time jobs as a result. Goldwind USA had contacted Mass Tank months ago on a different project, but Mass Tank couldn’t fit the work into its busy schedule. But the companies kept in touch, and Mass Tank was able to move forward on Goldwind’s subsequent request for a turbine tower.
It was all the more sweet for Kupferberg when he learned it was for Camelot Industrial Park in his own town.
“Our anticipation is that this is the first of many we’ll get involved in over the years,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s about growing jobs. I believe in this area and would like to see a growth in opportunities for jobs and quality of life.
The energy generated by the turbine will be sold back to the grid, Balboni explained.
“We think we’re doing something good,” he added. “We’re doing a little bit to help save the Earth for our kids and grandkids. The concept is pretty cool. You don’t have to burn coal. It’s the wind. I grew up in the ’70s with the first oil embargo.”
Alternative energy like wind power is the way to go, he added, because it will, over time, wean America off its dependence on fossil fuels, which are destroying the environment and draining people’s bank accounts.
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