Duxbury selectmen have given the green light to committing the town to buy power from a wind-to-energy project proposed in Plymouth.
On Monday, selectmen heard from both Duxbury Alternative Energy Committee chairman Jim Goldenberg and from representatives of Future Generation Wind, LLC, who answered their questions about the four wind turbine project to be located at Mann Farm, a 380-acre cranberry farm on Head of the Bay Road in Plymouth. Last year, the committee brought forward this wind project because it is expected to save the town 20 to 30 percent on its energy bills.
Two weeks ago, selectmen said they wanted more information about the town’s energy use and savings from this and other renewable energy projects and about any lawsuits involving the Plymouth turbine proposal.
This week, the board received answers to their questions and voted unanimously to move forward with the Future Generation Wind project.
Goldenberg updated selectmen on the town’s current energy usage. He explained that a “conservative guess” for the town’s average electrical usage is approximately 5.5 million megawatt hours.
Duxbury is currently involved in three green energy projects. An operating solar array in Acushnet by Pegasus Renewable Energy Partners provides the town with 1.2 million kilowatt hours. The solar array planned for the town’s capped landfill off Mayflower Street will provide 650,000 kilowatt hours. A proposed solar array on the roof of the new schools is expected to produce 250,000 kilowatt hours and the Future Generation Wind project should generate 2.5 million kilowatt hours.
The four projects together will cover 84 percent of the town’s energy through net metering credits for the total demand, according to information provided by Goldenberg.
Duxbury is planning to enter into a 20-year contract with Future Generation Wind that is expected to save it $2.3 million in energy costs over this time period, said Goldenberg. The contract has a five-year renewal clause, so the savings could total closer to $3.3 million after 25 years, he added.
Goldenberg said his committee has been working with property owner Keith Mann, Future Generation Wind, and Duxbury’s town counsel to produce a contract that will be favorable to the town and that the town has negotiated “off ramps” in the contract that will allow it to get out if the project faces delays or is shut down for any reason.
“We feel comfortable that we are protected,” said Goldenberg.
Article 21 in the March 8 annual Town Meeting warrant will give Duxbury voters the chance to decide whether the town should move forward with its contract with Future Generation Wind.
Selectmen asked Mann and his attorney many questions about how far along the project was and about lawsuits from neighbors. Mann told them that this project has received all local, state, and federal permits, including two special permits from the town of Plymouth. It has passed its environmental reviews and is awaiting financing. To receive financing, the project must sell its power. Currently, half the power has been sold, according to Mann.
He said that his proposal “has some of the best setbacks of any project” with only 50 houses within 2,000 feet.
“We have the fewest neighbors in close proximity,” said Mann.
Mann said his team reached out to all the neighbors and had meetings with them to answer questions.
“We did excessive public outreach,” he said.
There were three appeals surrounding the two of the four 480-foot turbines but Mann said they have “all been resolved” and the appeals period has closed.
Selectman Ted Flynn asked if the town of Bourne, which borders the site, had given the project any feedback. Mann said that there were no land use impact issues for Bourne and that that town was not interested in purchasing the power from the turbines because it was involved in another alternative energy project.
Patty Murphy of Plymouth, an abutter to the project, attended the meeting. She said that there were people opposed to the turbines “who could not afford the lawyers to go against Keith Mann.”
“We weren’t part of that group who hired lawyers. We have two kids in college. But we are opposed to the project,” said Murphy.
Selectman Shawn Dahlen said he favors the plan.
“I see this as an opportunity for the residents of the town of Duxbury to save a significant amount of money a year,” Dahlen said. “It is a viable project as it is permitted today. The contract has been vetted by the town counsel and the town is off the hook if that project can’t move forward.”