By Drew M. Bailey, Community Reporter
Committee member Richard Jones and Town Engineer Fred Litchfield described how the committee researched the installation of a wind turbine to offset the town energy costs – the town spends between $900,000 and $1 million per year on energy. Ultimately, however, they concluded, a wind turbine in Northborough would be impractical.
The study examined three locations: Tougas Farm and Davidian Brothers Farm, both on Ball Hill, and an area of conservation land on Mount Pisgah. The Mount Pisgah site was determined to be the only one of the three with adequate wind speeds.
Cost was a significant factor. The study examined the cost of various types of wind turbines, maintenance costs and the amount of power each generated. Total installation costs ranged from $2.25 million to $7.35 million, and the payback of this investment, based on power output, ranged from 9.6 to 15.3 years. This amount could have been offset through federal grants and subsidies, but in the opinion of the committee was still considerable, based on the longer-than-expected payback period. The committee had hoped for a period of four to five years.
The committee's conclusion that a wind turbine would be impractical at this time came with the caveat that the essential data the study collected would allow for a project to quickly go forward in the future should costs decline. According to Jones, other benefits of the study included supporting the efforts of other local communities with similar projects, education of the public through a series of presentations, and involving local political leaders including U.S. Rep. James McGovern, D-3rd District, state Sen. Harriette Chandler, D- 1st Worcester District, state Sen. James Eldridge, D-Acton, and state Rep. Harold Naughton, D-Clinton.
The committee recommended that at this time the town would be better served focusing on other alternative energy projects, energy conservation and community awareness of energy use.
The selectmen and Town Administrator John Coderre shared the committee's disappointment at the results of the study, but praised the efforts, citing the members” professionalism and efficiency, and invited them to become involved in other town committees.