FAIRHAVEN – Three months after going online, Fairhaven’s two wind turbines have saved the town $45,000 in both rent expenses and lower energy fees.
In January, town officials told The Standard-Times they expected the town to save $200,000 to $500,000 per year from the turbines over the 20-year project term.
“Right now we are a little lower than what we would expect for the savings for the year,” Executive Secretary Jeffrey Osuch said. “But July is the absolute lowest amount of wind for the year, so we expect the revenue will go up in the coming months.”
Roughly $100,000 of the money saved by the town per year comes from the land lease agreement between Fairhaven and Fairhaven Wind, which owns the turbines, Osuch said. That money is paid in four $25,000 installments every three months.
In addition to the lease fee, Fairhaven has saved $20,000 in energy fees since May. Osuch said the town pays Fairhaven Wind 7.43 cents per kilowatt hour of energy produced by the turbines. Town savings are determined by fluctuating NStar prices and wind speed.
Osuch said the money Fairhaven saves from the turbines “is no different than other town revenue, like parking or boat fees.”
It is up to the Board of Selectmen and the Finance Board to propose to Town Meeting a use for the money.
“The money right now is just being set aside,” he said. “It’s a revenue source at this time but how it will be spent is up to the town.”
The turbines, located at the Board of Public Works off Arsene Street, are not the only forms of alternative energy bringing in revenue.
Though the BPW’s anaerobic digester is not yet up and running, solar panels installed as part of the project have been online for more than a year. (The digester technology uses microorganisms to break down sludge into bio-gas, which is converted to electricity.)
The solar panels have been installed on the BPW’s administration building, sludge processing center on Arsene Street and at the Waste Water Treatment Center on West Island. Together, the panels have saved Fairhaven $11,000 this year, BPW Superintendent Vinny Furtado said.
Energy produced by both the solar panels and the turbines goes directly into the grid. Fairhaven pays the developers a per-kilowatt rate for the energy produced, and NStar in turn pays the town for the energy going into the grid. The difference between the money NStar pays and the money Fairhaven pays to the developer is town revenue.
“If these solar panels weren’t there, we would have been paying that money to NStar,” Furtado said. “Hopefully when the digester is fully online, we’ll be saving more than that.”
Furtado said the town does not have a specific date for when the anaerobic digester will be operational but that “we’re hoping the contractor is out of there by the end of this month.”
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