A bid to push along the town’s commitment to buy power from a proposed wind turbine project in Plymouth has stalled because the Board of Selectmen wants more information about the town’s costs and savings as well as the lawsuits surrounding the proposal.
Future Generation Wind, LLC is planning to build four wind turbines at Mann Farm, a 380-acre cranberry farm located on Head of the Bay Road in Plymouth. Last year, the Duxbury Alternative Energy Committee identified this wind energy project as one that would benefit the town by saving it 20 to 30 percent on its energy bills and it has been working with property owner Keith Mann, Future Generation Wind and Duxbury’s town counsel to produce a contract.
According to town counsel Kevin Batt, who spoke at the selectmen’s meeting Monday, Future Generation Wind is looking for “off-takers” or communities willing to buy the power generated by the wind energy and sell it back to the electricity company in exchange for “net metering credits.” These credits are like discount coupons that towns apply to their electrical bills, said Batt.
Annual Town Meeting Article 21 seeks voter approval to authorize the town manager to negotiate the terms of a contract for this wind energy proposal.
However, Batt said that the company wants a commitment from the town sooner than the March 8 town meeting.
“They asked to see if the selectmen would execute this contract subject to town meeting approval,” Batt explained.
Future Generation Wind has secured contracts with the towns of Marion, Mattapoisett, and Rochester, and with two area schools and a school district, which will take a total of 50 percent of the energy created by the wind project. According to Batt, the company has other organizations interested in purchasing the power so it wants a commitment from Duxbury.
Selectmen did not give that commitment. Instead they asked many questions about the project including how much the town will still need to pay for after both this proj- ect and the transfer station solar project go on line.
“When are we going to have a final analysis of the potential savings?” asked Selectman Shawn Dahlen. He also wanted to know how much energy the town would take from the wind turbine proposal.
Batt said he needed to get some of these answers from the Alternative Energy Committee chairman Jim Goldenberg, who could not attend the meeting.
Selectmen Chairman Dave Madigan also wanted to know about the lawsuits that have surrounded this proposal.
“The last thing we want to do is to disturb our neighbors down in Plymouth,” said Madigan.
Batt said that he knew of some lawsuits but they had been settled. He said he would get clarification on the legal matters.
Hounds Ditch Lane resident Joanne Levesque told selectmen that the Wind Advisory Committee, which is appointed by the selectmen, had not been informed of this wind project. She said that when she spoke to Goldenberg about this, he told her that it was because the project was not sited in Duxbury.
Levesque became involved in the wind turbine debate in Duxbury when the Alternative Energy Committee proposed to build one at the North Hill golf course in 2011. Neighbors objected to that plan, which was ultimately withdrawn. Since then, Levesque said she has been following the issue in other towns, such as Plymouth and Kingston. She warned that the acoustical study that investigated noise from the fourturbine Plymouth project was “flawed.”
“I know that the town of Plymouth has not purchased power from this project, which I find interesting,” said Levesque.
She also wondered if the town would open itself to lawsuits if it contracted with Future Generation Wind. Batt said he did not think this could happen because the town wasn’t the property owner or builder.
Selectman Ted Flynn had reservations about the wind turbines.
“There’s almost a moral issue here as we won’t put up one in our backyard, but we will buy energy from one in someone else’s backyard,” Flynn said. “That needs to be fleshed out.”
Selectmen decided to meet with Future Generation Wind representatives at their next meeting on Feb. 24.