Dartmouth Select Board Picks Cash over Residents Saftey -Wind Turbines
Posted in the North Dartmouth Forum
#1 Dec 15, 2009
By Curt Brown
December 15, 2009 12:00 AM
DARTMOUTH The Select Board listened for more than two hours Monday night to the advantages and disadvantages of constructing two wind turbines at the wastewater treatment plant off Chase Road.
Select Board member Lara H. Stone said the board will make a decision at its meeting next Monday night.
The Select Board, acting as a Special Permit Granting Authority, is considering granting a permit to allow construction of the turbines.
The turbines, which will cost $9.2 million, must be approved by Town Meeting. A special Town Meeting to consider the project is scheduled for Jan. 26 at Dartmouth High School, assuming the Select Board approves the project.
Proponents, led by Dr. Ron DiPippo, chairman of the town's Alternative Energy Committee, said the project holds enormous potential for the town.
The 328-foot towers will generate a net financial benefit of $880,000 in the first year and $32 million at the end of 20 years, according to DiPippo.
If the towers are lowered to 289 feet, DiPippo said the financial benefits are still significant:$766,000 in the first year and $29 million over 20 years.
The cumulative financial benefit is the combination of the electricity savings, the sale of excess electricity back to NStar and the sale of Clean Renewal Energy Bond, minus the debt service on the project.
"... The project is viable under any case of assumptions," DiPippo said.
Edward Britto, who lives on Russells Mills Road, complained the proposed turbines were too high, too close to homes and unsafe.
Britto, in a lengthy presentation, called 328-foot turbines "prototypes" and "unproven."
He said the Select Board's priority should be public safety and added that "safety far outweighs monetary gain."
He said he would favor smaller turbines and "a better area," possibly near UMass Dartmouth.
Other residents complained about a possible drop in home values and voiced concerns about shadow flicker caused by the rotation of the blades as well as noise and ice flung by the blades.
"I don't want to live under a wind tower and I don't think anyone else does," said Jeffrey Katz, who lives on Woodberry Lane, expressing concern about the turbines possibly causing a drop in residential valuations.
Katz also wondered if the Select Board was focused on only the financial benefits and not keeping an open mind.
"I think it is seen as a virtual ATM, a money maker," he said.
Select Board Joseph L. Michaud told Katz and others voicing similar concerns that board members were looking at the pros and cons of the project and have not made a decision on it.
DiPippo said shadow flicker has the potential to affect 94 homes, but that doesn't include mitigating factors such as trees in the area, which will act as a shield.
Within an 860-foot radius of the south turbine, DiPippo said there is one home, and within a 1,000-foot radius of the north turbine there are three residences.
DiPippo also said a study of 7,500 residential sales in nine states involving 24 wind turbines have shown no evidence of a widespread drop in valuation to nearby homes.
However, residents were unconvinced and asked the town to take a closer look at possible drops in valuations.
The turbines are 462 feet from the ground to the tip of the blade at its highest point and 328 feet from the ground to the hub.
DiPippo said his goal is to have construction under way next summer and have the turbines operational by November or December
The $9.2 million cost of the turbines would be offset by the receipt of $2 million in Clean Renewable Energy Bond, which will lower the interest costs the town has to pay.
The CREB will allow the town to finance $2 million of the prioject at 1 percent, while seeking general obligation at about 4 percent for the remaining $7.2 million.
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