PORTSMOUTH – You’ll have to stretch your neck a little more to see the top of the new wind turbine when it goes up.
The Town Council Monday night unanimously approved a request by contractor Wind Energy Development (WED) to build a turbine that’s 65 feet taller than the existing one. The new turbine will top out at 85 meters, or about 279 feet.
Specifically, the council approved WED’s request to amend its contract with the town in order to increase the maximum height of the new turbine by 12 meters, or about 39 feet. (Under the previous contract, WED could replace the current turbine with one that was 8 meters – about 26 feet – higher.)
Voters approved building the turbine with a $3 million bond issue in 2007. The windmill was built in 2009 but has been idle since 2012 due to a faulty gearbox supplied by a company that has since gone bankrupt.
In November 2014 the council voted to enter into a contract with WED of North Kingstown that would allow the town to pay off the remaining debt that’s left on the turbine. Under the agreement, WED was to pay a lump sum of $1.45 million to the town. In exchange, the town would buy energy generated from the new 1.5-megawatt turbine over a 25-year period at a rate of 15.5 cents per kilowatt hour.
WED owner Mark DePasquale said the 85-meter turbine is the industry standard, therefore he could get it up and running sooner because a smaller machine requires bank approval.
Ten, 85-foot turbines have already been imported from Germany for WED’s current project in Coventry, said Mr. DePasquale. One of those turbines, he said, could be brought over to Portsmouth because the Coventry project is being phased in.
Under DePasquale’s timeline, the task of taking down the current turbine should begin on Friday, Jan. 29. After that, it should take only two days to install the new machine in February, he said.
“It’s important to get this project behind us and get the bond paid off,” Mr. DePasquale said.
Promises no additional shadow flicker
He also said the taller turbine will not affect the amount of shadow flicker, which neighbors have complained about. Since it will produce more energy, a taller turbine could be shut down for brief spells during peak flicker activity. Stephen Brusini, attorney for WED, told the council that under the company’s contract with the town, the amount of shadow flicker cannot increase with the new turbine.
A taller turbine, however, would be quieter and run more efficiently, said Mr. DePasquale.
“By raising the height, it will actually produce more energy in the evening after the sun sets,” he said.
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