CRISFIELD – City officials have taken the first step toward building a wind energy system to power Crisfield’s sewage treatment plant by agreeing to get interim financing for a study on how it will affect the power grid.
In a special meeting Friday night, City Council members signed a $35,000 borrowing resolution to pay for the study, which is required by Delmarva Power, rather than take money from the already tight budget.
“Could we come up with $35,000? Absolutely,” Mayor Percy Purnell said. “But we would have to take it from somewhere else.”
The city has been approved for $4.8 million in state grants that will pay for the turbine, and some of that money will likely be used to repay the loan, he said.
But under the terms of the grant, the state won’t release the funds until the project is ready to begin construction.
Borrowing the money was necessary to get the project under way, since the study will take about 12 weeks, Purnell said.
Councilman Mark Konapelsky said the turbine – which is expected to save the city about $20,000 per month on electricity – will be a boon to the city.
“If this comes to fruition, it will be huge for Crisfield,” he said.
Delmarva Power officials have said the company requires impact studies for all large-scale projects that plan to go on the power grid. The $35,000 fee is charged by an outside contractor, and Delmarva Power does not make any money on it.
Construction that was originally scheduled for sometime in June will be delayed about six weeks while the study is completed, Purnell said.
Although the turbine is expected to generate more than enough electricity to power the sewer plant, it must still connect to the grid since the plant needs a consistent source of electricity, and the turbine’s output could fluctuate depending on how windy it is, Purnell said.
The city also can sell the excess electricity back to the grid.
The $4.8 million grant is enough to cover the cost of construction plus the Delmarva Power study, because the project was scaled down after officials at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in St. Mary’s County expressed concerns that turbines will interfere with radar systems.
The 750-kilowatt turbine planned for a site next to the sewer plant on Seventh Street will be under the 300-foot height limit set by the Navy.
Preliminary design work for the turbine has been completed, and a site survey and borings at the property are currently under way.
The city still needs to get the project approved by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense.
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