Wind on the horizon: voters approve pursuing power agreement

Written by Administrator
 | Wednesday, 12 March 2014 15:50

The town has authorized the town manager and Board of Selectmen to pursue and negotiate a net metering power purchase agreement with a wind turbine project in Plymouth.

The town meeting article proposed a net metering power purchase agreement with Future Generation Wind, LLC, the company that has plans to establish a wind turbine project on Mann Farms in Plymouth. The green energy project is a four-turbine project on a 380-acre cranberry bog on Head of the Bay Road. The town now has the opportunity to enter into an agreement with Future Generation Wind, LLC, for credits that would allow the town to save between 20-30 percent on its electricity bill, which would translate into savings of $2-3 million over the next 20 years.

Steve Campbell, a member of the Alternative Energy Committee, said the committee has been trying to find future opportunities to offset the current use of electricity in the town. Currently, the town uses 5.5 megawatt hours annually. With the wind project, the town’s electricity usage would be 84 percent renewable energy. The contract would be for 20 years, with a five-year optional extension.

Resident Joanne Levesque was recognized at Town Meeting as having created an organized opposition to the article and was given the floor to argue her point. Levesque has been involved in a number of green energy-related issues and said she would be fully in support of the article if she believed the project had been “responsibly sited.”

In 2011, Levesque and her neighbors formed Duxbury Wind Wise, a committee with a mission to raise awareness about the responsible use of wind energy and town resources. With the knowledge gained from working with the committee on several projects, Levesque drafted an amendment to Article 21. Her amendment requested the approval of the article be dependent upon the completion of an independent study and financial report. The study committee would be appointed by the Board of Selectmen and would vet the integrity of the financial projections provided by Future Generation Wind.

Campbell responded to the amendment by saying time is of the essence with this particular project.

“If we do not enter into this agreement, the opportunity will go away,” he said. “This project was thoroughly vetted through a reputable firm.”

Selectmen Chair David Madigan agreed that timing was crucial with regards to this particular article.

“The timing is such that we have to move fairly quickly at this point,” he said. “We have been talking about it for a number of months with the Alternative Energy Committee, brought in proponents and opponents, contacted neighbors and addressed concerns.”

Madigan said he believed going through with the agreement was a “step in the right direction” and will bring the town more in line with the green energy code.

After much discussion, the amendment to Article 21 was defeated 74-40 and discussion on the article itself continued. Several residents expressed concern with the proximity of the turbines to surrounding homes, recalling health concerns residents have had in Kingston and Pembroke with regards to the turbines.

Selectman Shawn Dahlen explained the process the Board of Selectmen took to decide to move forward with the agreement. The board met on three separate occasions to discuss the project.

“The town of Duxbury is neither the developer nor the person putting this together,” he said. “We are a consumer and we are consuming credits that will amount to a considerable savings for the town.”

Dahlen also noted that if the project does not come to fruition, there are a number of “exit ramps” in the contract to allow the town to leave the project with no cost to the town.

A hand count was taken after a voice vote was too close to call. After all the votes were tallied, the article passed 82 to 32 to close out the first day of Town Meeting.