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|DUX powered by wind?|
|Written by Gillian Smith|
|Wednesday, 16 October 2013 13:32|
At their most recent meeting, the Alternative Energy Committee heard a presentation about a proposed wind project and decided to recommend further research into the project by town officials.
Keith Mann, the owner of a cranberry bog in Plymouth, presented a proposed wind project that could provide nearly half of Duxbury’s energy usage. The Future Generation Wind Project will consist of six megawatts of wind power generated by four wind turbines located on the cranberry bog. The project will qualify as a Massachusetts Class I renewable resource, is fully permitted and has all authorizations needed to begin construction.
In order to start the project and install the infrastructure, the project needs energy off- takers. Once at least 75 percent of the potential energy is under contract, the project can get financed and can move forward. As of last week, Mann said he is looking to have the project financed by the first quarter of 2014 and have construction begin by the third quarter of 2014. By December 2014, he is aiming to be fully functional.
The site of the project will be the 380-acre farm on the Plymouth- Bourne town line. It is currently fully permitted and free of appeals. Mann said there were three appeals at the outset of the project, but after he sat down with concerned neighbors and went through noise and flicker issues, the appeals were resolved. The project has also secured an interconnection agreement with NStar.
Future Generation Wind has secured energy contracts with the towns of Marion, Mattapoisett, Rochester, the Old Rochester school district, Upper Cape Cod Regional Vo cational Technical School and Old Colony Regional Voca- tional Technical High School. Those entities have taken a total of 50 percent of the energy that will be created by the wind project. Mann said he is looking to sell off the other 50 percent and is currently in talks with multiple interested parties.
The contract offer is generally the same for each customer, with specifications added per entity, Mann said. The general offer is that the turbines will generate enough net metering credits to create a 20 percent discount on the town’s electric bill for a 20-year term with an optional five-year renewal. If the wind power rate goes up, Future Generation Wind will share the increase 50/50 with the customer. If the rate falls below the floor of 11.5 cents, the town would have to pay the 11.5 cents. However, the amount that is paid goes into a tracking account and when the rate increases above the floor, the money the town paid will act as a credit.
According to the presentation, the project would save the town $87,000 in the first year. Jim Goldenberg, committee chair, voiced his concern with a scenario in which the turbines would be stopped.
Mann said he has gone through 12 public hearings addressing concerns by neighbors, has passed extensive sound and flicker criteria and has calculated no more than 10 houses exist within 2,000 feet of the turbines. If an issue occurred, the hypothetical contract with the town could allow for a six-month period to fix the issue.
“If we are shut down, the worst effect to the town is that you have to pay your entire electric bill,” Mann said. “It’s not that you have to pay more, you just don’t get the savings.”
Mann also addressed a concern for the town of being locked into a commitment and the project not getting off the ground. Goldenberg asked if there were certain milestones Future Wind would be required to hit in order to ensure the project was on track for a December 2014 launch and Mann said milestones were something he could potentially discuss with town counsel.
The project is slated to cost $25 million, a percent- age of which qualifies for a tax credit. Mann said he currently has more conversations in place with potential buyers than energy to sell.
The committee voted to allow Goldenberg to speak with the town manager and town counsel about pursuing a deal with the Future Generation Wind Project. At the same time, the committee will enter into due diligence to help sup- port the final decision. Each member was given a task to complete in order to compile all the pertinent information regarding the project and the costs and benefits to the town.