Otis voters OK $400K for wind turbine project


OTIS -- A proposed wind turbine project in Otis is on track for construction this year after special town meeting voters approved a $400,000 allocation for the project.

All but one of the 83 registered voters in attendance Feb. 27 voted to approve the allocation from the town's stabilization account. The other voter did not cast a ballot. The vote required approval by a two-thirds majority in order to pass.

"I think we have all our ducks lined in a row and we have everything in place," Board of Selectmen Chairwoman Roberta Sarnacki said. "We have things set up in case of problems so we don't go any further."

The project is currently scheduled to start in September, Energy Committee Chairman Larry Gould said.

Before construction can proceed, voters at May's annual town meeting will need to approve a $6 million bond to finance expenses related to the project. The bond will be paid back through revenue anticipated from the wind turbine.

"We haven't changed the schedule, but we have a lot more to do," Gould said.

Ninety-five percent of the $400,000 allocation could be reimbursed if grant funding from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center is secured, Gould said.

Town officials have said the large-scale wind facility would power government buildings, allow for the sale of power to neighboring governments, lower residential power costs and generate revenue.

The wind turbine would be located on 35 acres of land donated by Ed Williams and the Williams Stone Co. The wind turbine is estimated to be 262 feet tall, Gould said.

At the special meeting, town residents voted to spend $800 to engrave a stone marker to honor Ed Williams and the Williams Stone Co. for its donation of the site.

Williams currently has a profitable wind turbine on his property, and he's an advocate for the project.

"We prefer to be out of the limelight, but we also prefer to be a good neighbor," Williams said about the donation. "You've got to throw something back in the pot."

Gould emphasized the project's next significant step would be the completion of an interconnection agreement with the utility company that would allow the power to be part of the electricity grid.

During the meeting, the town also voted to support three other town warrants beyond the funding for the wind turbine and the plaque for Ed Williams.

The other motions include a $600 allocation to pay the town's certified water operator for services from fiscal year 2012.

Voters also approved a $5,000 allocation to prepare and install a well for the wastewater treatment plant, and transferred $3,000 in free cash to the reserve fund.


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