AUBURN – Following a presentation Monday night on the feasibility of placing a wind turbine on Prospect Hill, selectmen hinted that the final decision on whether to move forward with the project would not be made by them, but by a vote at town meeting or a referendum.
Doreen M. Goodrich, board chairman, said that when selectmen asked questions about the project, it was not to show opposition or support, but to get “as much information as possible” for local voters.
Matthew J. Vanderbrook, project manager for the town’s consultant, Sustainable Energy Developments Inc. of Ontario, N.Y., said the proposed site on town property beyond Home Depot and BJ’s Wholesale Club would support a wind turbine.
He said the wind averaged approximately 14 miles per hour and he recommended an 850-kilowatt Gamesa wind turbine, “similar to Holy Name’s” on Granite Street in Worcester.
The proposed project would cost an estimated $2.9 million and would result in 20-year savings of approximately $2.1 million, after all costs are factored in, its backers say.
A “shadow-flicker study” was already done, with a worst-case scenario finding three sites with more than 30 hours of shadow-flicker per year.
Mr. Vanderbrook suggested balloons be flown at the height of the tower so residents could gauge how it would affect their views, and also proposed an acoustic study. The latter would be fully funded by the state and would begin with a study of ambient sound, since state Department of Environmental Protection policy does not allow more than 10 decibels over existing noise levels.
Robert L. Platukis, chairman of the Wind Turbine and Alternative Energy Committee, said, “We’re not asking for funding, but offering to save taxpayers money. We are creating wealth for the town from nothing.”
Ms. Goodrich said she would like to see a “better diagram, maybe 1,500 feet out” showing how many residents would be affected by the tower.
Richard C. Ringgard said other communities have had problems with towers, which have lowered property values.
Local historian Kenneth R. Ethier said windmills were common in town in the 19th century.
Clifford Granger, 98, of 91 Prospect St., who used to own the land on which the tower would be built and would be one of its closest neighbors, said, “I approve of the windmill. I cannot see it would do any harm. I grew up on a farm that had a windmill that pumped water. There are definite advantages to a windmill.”
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