HAMPTON – A conceptual proposal to erect a 4G cell tower and wind turbine at Hampton Beach sparked some interest with the town’s Energy Committee but members say they want more information to decide whether or not the idea is full of hot air.
Mainly they want to know how much revenue could be generated if the town leases municipal land for the tower and also how much power would be generated from the windmill.
Jim George presented the idea of constructing a 50- to100-foot structure to be located on Brown Avenue to the committee on Thursday. Not only would it provide much-needed cell coverage to the Hampton Beach area but George said it also would generate green energy and money for the town.
Forming a new company, George, who formerly worked in site acquisition for Tower Resource Management, said his goal is to bring an idea popularized in Ireland to the New England coastal area.
He says he can attract cell-phone carriers but needs a host site in Hampton.
George is proposing to lease a 40-by-40 or 60-by-60-foot area from the town.
His company would generate revenue by bringing in cellular phone companies to rent space from it.
The town, he said, would benefit financially from him leasing the space and the wind turbine would possibly offset electricity costs for the police department.
George likened the noise produced by the possible windmill to a whisper and said the cellular tower could provide coverage for about two miles.
The question, however, was how much wind power would be generated, especially after George said it would be similar to the windmill Unitil has positioned on Route 101.
Dick Desrosiers, chairman of the Energy Committee, noted that the wind turbine on Route 101 and the other one in town, located at Winnacunnet High School, don’t generate much “juice.”
“It’s important to us (to know how much power could be generated) because if I want to take advantage of the system I would want to power a couple of buildings down there (at the beach),” Desrosiers said.
George, however, said the system would not be able to produce enough power to cover all the electricity needs at the police station.
“It would be supplement,” George said.
The driving force for him is the cellular tenants. The turbine, he said, goes more to “zonability.”
“It does what it does,” said George, who likened the windmill to putting “lipstick on a pig.”
Selectman Richard Nichols said it is important to quantify the benefit to the town in realistic terms.
“We need an understanding it would be worthwhile for the town,” Nichols said.
“If someone said the benefit to the town would just be $25,000 a year then I don’t think it would fly. If it was $2 million people would take it seriously. I picked a big and little number and I’m not sure where in the middle it becomes interesting for me.”
George said he intends to do some further studies to answer the committee’s questions, including how much wind power could be generated.
He will report back to the committee at a later date.
“There is no financial cost to the town and only the potential for revenue,” said Desrosiers,
Committee members noted that if the project was to go forward it would need approval from the Selectmen, Zoning Board and Planning Board.
Meanwhile, George said he will be making similar proposals throughout the coastal region, including Rye.
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