SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

August 19, 2011

Turbine more powerful than thought

SWAMPSCOTT — A proposed wind turbine could supply more of the town's power than originally thought.

The $3 million turbine, approximately the height of a 30-story building, is being considered for placement at the northern end of the middle school property.

Assistant Town Engineer Victoria Masone initially said the turbine would produce enough power to supply "between 30 to 40 percent" of the energy for the middle school. A feasibility study, however, indicates much more power could be produced by the turbine than the school would use by itself.

Masone said she made a mistake in her initial estimate.

"(The turbine) definitely supplies 100 percent of the middle school's power," she said. "If you wanted to look at the whole School Department, it (would supply) 60 percent for all schools."

The school system uses about 3 megawatts of power each year, and the turbine is expected to produce about 1.7 megawatts annually, according to Masone.

It will be connected with a main electrical wire and supply power to other town structures should it produce more than the middle school can use. The turbine is expected to pay for itself in about 16 years, according to the study.

Masone said the study, which favors a midrange, 900-kilowatt turbine, is in draft form, and construction is a good five years off. Before that happens, the project must pass numerous permitting and funding hurdles.

The Renewable Energy Committee will have its next meeting on Aug. 24. The feasibility study will be on its agenda.

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