After performing a feasability study for one year, Weston and Sampson came to the conclusion that a wind turbine at Butler Farm would not be economically feasible for the town of Millbury. Johanna Hall, a project engineer for Weston and Sampson, told the Millbury Selectmen at Tuesday’s meeting that it came to the conclusion that a “wind turbine is viable, but not economically viable due to the low long-term wind speeds predicted at the site.”
Hall gave an overview of the work her firm did to find out what was doable at the Butler Farm site in terms of generating wind power. She said the site could hold a wind turbine, but it would not bring in the kind of return needed for it to be a money-making option for the town. In fact, she explained that Weston and Sampson ran through two models of how the funding would be generated for the town and neither was one that the town should pursue economically.
“Taking the cost into account, we ran two economic models. The first one was an equity cost with no grant funding and as you can see by the red numbers there a project would not be economically favorable,” Hall told the selectmen during her presentation. “The net value under all the turbines valuing is a negative cash flow and a very high simple payback.
“This second scenario includes grant funding so it would be slightly more favorable than the previous economic scenario, but again, even with grant funding, all models show a negative net present value and negative cash flow with a very high simple payback,” Hall continued.
The study was done with grant money the town earned, and was a precaution the town took before it jumped into building a wind turbine on Butler Farm without knowing if it would generate enough energy to pay for itself and produce revenue for the town.
“I’m very happy we did this study because I’ve noticed some towns have already installed them and they’re not working out,” said Millbury Selectmen Chairman Bernie Plante.
Town planner Laurie Connors pointed out, when asked by selecman Sandy Cristo, that Butler Farm was one of three location identified as a possible place for a wind turbine in town – the other two were Stowe Meadows and Davidson Sanctuary – but the other two location were owned by Conservation society, which would not let the town build its land.
“The sanctuary and meadows are under the Conservation Commission’s jurisdiction, so before I came to the Board of Selectmen years ago I went to the conservation commission to see if they’d be open to a feasibility [study] being done actually at the Stowe Meadows because that was considered the best of the sites,” said Connors. “They just weren’t [interested] because they believe that their land should be for conservation purposes and not for the erection of a wind turbine.”
Connors later joked that the town was still looking into other renewable energy sources and that she’d be back with another proposal soon enough.
Brian Stowell made a motion to have wind turbine at Butler Farm tabled under advisement and the board voted unanimously in favor.
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