Dear Madaket Neighbors:
We on Nantucket are blessed with wind; a natural resource. Nantucket has among the Nation’s strongest and most consistent wind patterns. However, as an island without locally generated power, we are subject to some of the highest electric and fuel rates in the country. Currently, the Town’s annual bill for electricity exceeds $1.8 million, with 85% of our electricity coming from fossil fuels and nuclear plants, both with severe and attendant environmental impacts.
Because of the need to reduce costs and free up dollars for pressing local projects, and the responsibility to society at large, the Town has an obligation to its present and future citizens to investigate and determine a carefully conceived plan to advance wind-generated electricity.
The Madaket Landfill compound offers the best site on-Island for a wind turbine. The DPW land is classified “disturbed,” it has significant setbacks from residential homes, and it has a developable area without impacts on wetlands or protected species. There is no other site on the Island where a turbine could be sited at an appropriate size to offer the Town such significant economic benefits.
Among these benefits would be the reliable delivery of wind generated electricity for the Town’s compost digester located immediately adjacent to the site-- and six other Town facilities, including the Material Recovery Facility (MRF), the Public Safety Facility (police station), the Fire Department, Town Hall, Our Island Home and the NP&EDC offices at 2 Fairgrounds Road. The wind turbine will incorporate state of the art technology, such as feathering blades, and will have a modern design. Until recently the Town hosted a 464-foot radio tower on this property− considerably higher and more visible than one such turbine. Moreover, there is no intent or plan to install more than one such turbine on Nantucket…period!
The Town has studied the impacts extensively, retained specialists to conduct detailed avian studies, noise studies, flicker studies, and photo-simulations. We have publicized the results of these studies on our website (www.madaketwind.org) to inform all Island residents. We have reviewed the facts behind opposition to planned and operating turbines in Falmouth and elsewhere. We have downsized the proposed turbine as originally recommended and presented the HDC with visuals of the impacts of the design. After six hearings that took place over the summer, the HDC has approved a single, light grey turbine not to exceed 324 feet.
The Madaket project offers substantial economic benefits to the Town and to the wider public. Its potential impacts fall well within acceptable ranges, given the significant setbacks to residents (well in excess of other projects) and the present disturbed nature of the site. We have carefully reviewed many statements of opposition to this project yet none has provided objective scientific evidence of any adverse impacts to be wary of.
Ultimately, the views of all the voters should decide whether or not the Town moves forward with the wind turbine project. An important pocketbook issue, with real benefits to all Nantucket residents, is at stake here: Over 20 years, the 900kW turbine will save the Town $14,158,000 or more in electric bills. The turbine’s profits will easily pay the debt service (interest and principle) and all operating costs, preventative maintenance, insurance and other expenses. It will free up an average of $362,000 annually after debt service and expenses− about $1,000 a day, year in and year out to fund such projects as mosquito control, water quality testing, and other discretionary expenses of concern to all Nantucket residents.
Nantucket enjoys a long history of harvesting wind to economic advantage. The technology and aesthetics have evolved over the centuries. Whether the perceived adverse impacts outweigh the projected benefits has been, and will ultimately remain a matter of opinion. We ask only that citizens inform themselves of the facts and weigh the central tradeoff we face as a community. Nantucket is blessed with a free and abundant natural resource. We also have ongoing public needs the Town cannot afford to meet and believe the Madaket Wind Turbine is a viable solution that makes economic, social, and environmental sense for Nantucket. Harvesting wind would free up dollars to help eradicate mosquitoes, support water quality testing, or otherwise improve our lives.
That in a nutshell, is the tradeoff and at the heart of our mission.
Some facts to consider:
- Nantucket is endowed with among the nation’s best wind resources, based on real, long-term recorded data
- Wind power is characterized by a simple 1 thru 7 wind class system that rates wind potential. The average wind speed on Nantucket registers as a class 6: “outstanding” resource. In comparison, the wind speed in Hull, MA is a class 3: “fair” resource.
- Our residents and your Town are burdened with electric rates that are among the highest in the nation.
- The Town itself pays over $1.8 million per year for its electricity.
- The Town proposal is not for a wind farm, but rather a single turbine at a single location. That’s it.
- The turbine, to be located at the southern boundary of the DPW Compound, will offset the electricity costs of the composter and six other of the Town’s largest consuming facilities, including: the Material Recovery Facility (MRF), Fire Department, the Public Safety Facility (police station), 2 Fairgrounds Rd, Town Hall and Our Island Home.
- Our business model is premised on extremely conservative economic assumptions, not a “likely case” scenario.
- Our studies were performed by highly reputable consultants and engineering teams, not industry lobbyists. Their findings, based on real data, document their conclusion, that the project has minimal to no risk of harmful noise, flicker or avian kills.
- Over the course of 20-years, the Madaket Turbine is estimated to offset 86,958,376 lbs of Carbon Dioxide, 93,352 lbs of Sulfur Dioxide, and 194,853 lbs of Nitrogen Oxide.
- There is only one home within 2,300 feet of the proposed site in Madaket; in comparison there are 59 homes within 2,300 feet of the larger 1.69MW Turbine in Falmouth (which is over 50 feet taller in height).
- Nantucket Citizens at last year’s Annual Town Meeting supported this project (which has been under development since 2008) by a landslide vote.
Bottom-line: The Town would not be doing its job to represent the citizenry unless it had thoroughly investigated the development of wind technology to generate electricity. The decision to fund the turbine should ultimately fall to the local voters, not the Board of Selectmen.