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Miscoe Hill School in Mendon could get wind turbine

Mendon-Upton Regional School District is looking at the possibility of placing a wind turbine at Miscoe Hill (middle) School in Mendon.

The School Committee authorized Superintendent Joseph Maruszczak to make preliminary inquiries on putting up a small windmill.

Maruszczak said he had learned that two companies were looking to donate a vertical-access, twin-rotor turbine, worth $45,000.

“In late 2010 and early 2011, they had a project lined up in Plymouth,” he said. “They had initial approval from the zoning board to erect it on a hill but, right at the last minute, there was a problem with the zoning board.”

He said, since that project fell through, the turbine has been lying unused.

“The owners are concerned that it’s just sitting there and not put to good use,” he said.

According to Maruszczak, the turbine would not generate large amounts of energy for the school. He said, if the turbine sees an average of five mph winds over the course of a year, it would generate 12,000 kilowatt hours of electricity.

“The Miscoe Hill School uses 50,000 to 60,000 kilowatt hours a month,” he said. “Relatively speaking, the amount of electricity it generates is very, very small.”

He said the turbine’s prime benefit would be educational.

Maruszczak said he had spoken with town officials, and they indicated their support for the project.

“I see this as a really exciting opportunity,” he said. “It’s a perfect fit for the direction Mendon’s going in.”

School Committee member Liana Moore, though, expressed reservations about the project.

“I truly feel that we can achieve these educational objectives with much less cost,” she said. “I think there are alternatives to this where we don’t have operational costs.”

She said the advantage of having the turbine on school property was not clear.

“Unless there’s a driving reason why we should have a windmill on the property, we should let Worcester have theirs,” she said.

Maruszczak said he felt there was a real benefit to having a turbine at the school.

“I think the kids seeing this for the 180 days of the school year would be very powerful,” he said. “When you drive past Blackstone Valley Tech, the first thing you notice is the solar panels.”

School Committee Chairwoman Kathleen Drennan said more information would be needed, including the annual maintenance costs, before she could make a decision.

“I don’t want to saddle the school district with costs,” she said. “This would be something that would be on the budget for years to come.”