Wind Turbine Feasibility/Project Planning

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Comments on Initial Research

David - great work. A couple of quick thoughts:

  • I would not consider anything below a full 50m tower. Lower height data is sub-optimal and the 38m + SODAR is a kludge.
  • We want all the raw data - we will likely need assistance is doing the final analysis, but we want to own and possess all the data. Cell & web access sounds best (I realize there's a cost on the cell side.)
  • I don't see an objection to a used tower in principle. Concerns would be timing and durability.
  • I don't see why the educational discount offered to Green Needham on behalf of the schools' use of the tower wouldn't be offered to the Town's purchase for the same purpose.
Michael 09:31, 21 August 2009 (EDT)

Initial research 8-20-09

This week I spoke with NRG, the company that provided the initial quote on the tower itself, as well as the two installation companies that provided quotes. I am currently trying to contact a third installer but have not yet heard back from them.

Tower options: Purchase from NRG (new contact is Paul Dawson,, 802.482.2255)

  • NRG now offers a 34 meter tower as well as the 50 meter and 60 meter towers. The weight is 1250 pounds (as opposed to 2857 pounds for the 50 meter tower) and the cost is $8,000 less 30% educational discount as opposed to $10,800 less 30%. Information, including pricing, on all NRG's systems can be found at
  • If we try to purchase the tower through the town we might lose this educational discount so we might have to consider other strategies for acquiring the tower such as purchasing it through GreenNeedham and giving or loaning it to the town)if we buy from NRG.
  • A 34 meter tower will give us overall wind speed information but, according to the installers, might not give us enough shear information (the difference in wind speed that would be experienced at the top and bottom of the actual turbines). We would need to supplement this data with a SODAR machine (available from Second Wind in Cambridge) which we can rent for 6 weeks to tell us how wind speed varies with height above the ground at any particular location up to 100 meters. This approach would, however, allow us to assess other locations around Needham without installing a met tower at each one since we would have comparative data that we can collect on the ground (the SODAR machine mounts in the back of a pick up truck).
  • Installation manuals and specifications for all NRG's systems can be found at From what I can see these are not that hard to install, especially the smaller tower, and they come with a base attached, although a concrete pad distributes the weight which is important for protecting our landfill cap.
  • NRG offers an iPac for $1400 that sends data daily via cell or satellite to Symphony software that they provide free of charge on their website so we may not need to pay an installer $4,000 just to package up data. If we don't want to ante up the money for the cell service we can collect the data at the bottom of the tower daily or weekly but this means walking on the cap. It is not clear to me if we would then need help interpreting the data or if the results would be obvious from the software so at some point we might need some support interpreting results.

Other tower options that could reduce our cost: Lighthouse Electrical provided some other options (Newell Thomas,, 781 261 97111); they were the installers at Hingham.

  • Braintree will be finished with their 50 meter tower that they are borrowing from Hingham next June and might be willing to loan or sell it to us. Paul Henue? would be the contact and I believe we have already spoken with him since I think he gave us his engineering document as a starting point. Worst case is that it might need new instrumentation, a cost of only $2,200.
  • Lighthouse will also be uninstalling an older 50 meter tower in Salem next June that they own and would be willing to sell it to us (again it might need new instrumentation). We need to know Needham's wind speed design criteria to be sure the tower meets the specification (Chip or Tony?) but it was adequate for Salem which has greater wind than Needham I believe.

Installation: EAPC is the other installation company that originally provided a quote (Matthew Casey,, 802 649 1511) although Gary Winslow is the person in charge of small installations.

  • EAPC wants us to do a feasibility study first to ensure that the site of a met tower would adequately represent the wind we could expect for an actual wind generation turbine and would check for site suitability for a permanent tower as well as microwave interference. This would cost $7000 to $9000 and would take 4-6 weeks [[1]]. I'm not so sure we need such a study given the similarity to Hingham and input from Lighthouse who have seen our site and also installed Hingham, but I'd appreciate others' input.
  • Both installers would be open to an arrangement where we use our own resources to pour the concrete (although both think that 4'x4' would be adequate rather than 10'x10') and to sink the anchors. I asked if we could use our own manpower to raise the tower under their supervision which both, especially Lighthouse, would be open to although they claim that installing met towers is a loss leader. This approach, along with considering a used tower, could bring the project cost back into the $23,000 to $25,000 range we have currently budgeted.


  • We need to consider the height of the tower and whether it is important that it be new.
  • There are many options for installation and data collection strategies. I would appreciate it if someone could look at the installation manuals for the 50 meter tower and assess what precisely we need the installer to do so we can get a better quote.
  • Are we willing to collect the data ourselves and who would do it?

All these factors will influence the final project specs. Carys, if you want to contact any of these vendors to get more specific information please do so.

Document Review 8-14-09

There is some overlap in the proposals as well as some possibly extraneous material, so it's probably best to talk with George to get a clearer picture. (Michael)

Prior to contacting the vendors I have reviewed to documents and have some preliminary observations (although I might be missing some information):

  • Our quote for the tower from NRG, $11,378, is for a 60m tower along with a logger and sensor kit so we need a new quote for a 50m tower
  • The two installation quotes are for approximately $23,000 WITHOUT the cost of the tower
  • Both quotes include approximately $10,000 in installation labor and $6000 for removal labor
  • The quotes include approximately $4000 for monitoring over the course of the year
  • There certainly seem to be opportunities for reducing the installation costs however right now our total cost is looking more like $34,000 which is more than we have been budgeting.

Next steps will be to contact the vendors for clarification and to arrange site visits once the plans are complete so they can assess the precise issues around the site.

Planning Meeting 8-13-09

Chip Laffey, Tony DelGaizo, Mario Araya, Carys Lustig, Lee Newman, David Harris and Michael Greis met to discuss next steps.

  • Tony will provide Chip the finalized design for submission within 1-2 days
  • Chip will formally submit the plan to the DEP no later than October 1st
  • DEP has 120 days to respond
  • Chip will find out whether a building permit is required
  • David & George will work with Carys to provide detailed specification information by September 25th for:
  • Met Tower - 50m (engineering plan and submission to Selectmen used 50m tower)
  • Monitoring Equipment and Service
  • What are the communication options and requirements (cell, wireless internet)
  • Must ensure that we get all the data and that the data is available to the schools
  • Roger MacDonald (MIS) should be in the loop, especially if data mustgo to/through Town Network from the tower
  • Installation (& removal)
  • NB:Check with Chip on concrete blocks - we may be able to get them at lower cost than from an install vendor
  • Carys can arrange visits/meetings for installers, provide plan information
  • Complete cost information is needed for submission to MTC to secure funds
  • Carys plans to submit by November 15th (deadline is Nov. 30th)
  • Also for Green Needham so we can plan for any additional fund raising
  • NB:Any additional funds needed could likely be allocated to tower removal, which allows plenty of time
  • Carys and Chip will prepare bid documents
  • Determine best structure from specs - two bids (tower, install) needed/desirable?
  • Specification information must be very complete so we get exactly what we want
  • Bid can go out as soon as TM approves zoning in the spring
  • Lee Newman will begin drafting zoning to permit erection of tower - plan for hearings, etc. fall/early winter

See Reference Documents for quotes and information George gathered in 2008.

(Please edit/correct as needed - Michael 12:37, 13 August 2009 (EDT))

Selectmen's Meeting

On August 11th, Chip, Carys and Mario presented the Selectmen with the plan for the wind analysis at the RTS prior to proceeding with submission of the Engineering Plan to the DEP. While the submission does not require a vote of the Board, the Town Manager wanted to present the plan and get a sense of the board's support for the plan.

All five Selectmen indicated their enthusiasm and support for this innovative project. We appreciate their interest and support.

Thursday's meeting (below) is the next step.

Final Community Matching Grant Account Balance

Needham has $23,880 in the matching fund from the Clean Choice and Solar Challenge programs. The plan is to use between $10,000 and $12,000 of these funds for the wind feasibility study. The balance will be used to acquire equipment from an approved list provided to communities by MTC. These are the funds that must be accessed by November 30, 2009.

Planning Meeting

The meeting is scheduled for:

  • Date & Time: Thursday, August 13th at 10:00 am
  • Location: 2nd floor conference room, DPW Building, 470 Dedham Ave.

Lee Newman is scheduling a meeting, tentatively planned for the morning of August 13th with

  • Lee
  • Chip Laffey
  • Tony DelGaizo
  • Michael Greis (and any other members of the wind team who are available)

The purpose would be to go over the plan and timeline so we can determine what has to be done, by when and by whom.

A non-exhaustive list of possible discussion items:

  • Work with the vendor to get a revised quote
  • Determination of the cost we will need to incur for the materials for the pad (the plan would be for Town staff to do the work)
  • Total cost determination so that we can finalize how much we need from the Solar Challenge/Clean Choice fund
  • Plan for submitting paperwork for the solar challenge/clean choice funds
  • Funding process and mechanisms (how the money flows)
  • Outline of zoning requirements and spproach to drafting a by-law amendment

Michael 21:51, 5 August 2009 (EDT)

Engineering Plan and DEP Submission

  • The Town Engineer's office has completed work on an engineering plan
  • Chip will present the plan and the project to the Selectmen at their August 11th meeting
  • He will request their approval for submission of the plan to the DEP
  • I will be there to answer any questions Chip needs to direct to me (e.g. financing)
  • George - if you are not available, perhaps you could refresh my memory of some of the technical details?

Michael 21:51, 5 August 2009 (EDT)

Confirmation from MTC on funding timeline

I just talked with Christie Howe at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative about the Solar Challenge/Clean Choice funds and our wind feasibility study. She confirmed that the met tower/feasibility study is an eligible use of the funds. MTC also understands that communities will not necessarily be able to expand their funds by November. The requirement is that communities submit their requests with accompanying plans by November 30th to receive the funds. Within a year, the communities will then be expected to submit a project report detailing how they have used the funds.

This simplifies our work considerably and relieves us of the concern that we would not be able to access the funds as we had planned. To access the funds, we as a community will need to submit the request by November 30th. The request should cover all the funds - those used for the Met Tower as well as the other products Carys is now researching. We have a quote for the Met Tower, so we need to get the Engineering Plan developed so we can submit that plan along with the quote and the timetable (covering approvals, zoning changes and planned installation by the spring) to the MTC. With a commitment to seek approval for the necessary zoning changes no later than the May Town Meeting, we should have no difficulty in also meeting the 12-month reporting requirement, as we would have the tower installed and operating by then.

At this point, we should be focused on getting the engineering plan done, along with the cost estimates for the materials we will have to purchase, so that we can confirm the amount needed and assemble a final package for review by the Selectmen and Kate, followed by submission to the MTC.

Michael 09:54, 27 July 2009 (EDT)

Meeting Update

Lee has been away, but is back and will contact Tony and Chip to set up a meeting.

Michael 15:16, 21 July 2009 (EDT)

Schedule considerations

(David Harris, 7/14/09)

  • Special town meeting is likely to be November 2 so latest opportunity to present to Board of Selectmen is Tuesday October 13th. September opportunities are September 22 or September 8th. (Jerry, when do we need to get on the agenda for a by-law change?)
We probably want to get to the Selectmen earlier to ask their support for the project as a whole - I know Chip is thinking about this. Michael 17:51, 14 July 2009 (EDT)
  • Zoning board of appeals opportunities are very limited: September 17th or October 15th which may well be too late if any public hearing is needed. August 20th seems unlikely since we need the design work completed by Tony DelGaizo. Preparing the zoning by-law might be assisted by the template: although we need to be able to edit this pdf. (Who knows Tony and Lee Newman well enough to push these steps along?)
The key board we need to work with is the Planning Board, as they oversee the Zoning By-Laws and would have to approve a By-Law for the warrant. Michael 17:51, 14 July 2009 (EDT)
  • In August the BOS should receive the Final Matching Grant Application to access our unused Clean Energy Choice funds. (DH can review the application once it arrives in order to get this done in time).
  • There are a couple of steps here.
  • First, we will need to follow up with Martha Broad at the MTC, as they have to approve proposed projects. Although they have not been very supportive of wind projects in communities like ours, she understood that we understood what we were doing and why, plus the collateral educational benefits of the project. So I do have to circle back with her to get them on board.
  • Work on the application - as you suggested.
  • Also, after talking with Mark Sylvia, I understand that for communities with less than 13,000 in their fund (we have more), there will be a list of pre-approved "stuff" that they can spend their money on. We will want to look at this as well.
Michael 17:51, 14 July 2009 (EDT)
  • We need a contractor lined up to erect the tower in November before the weather becomes a problem so we can gather data through the winter with the goal of having information in time to put an actual project in front of town meeting in May 2011. Have we determined who to use yet?
  • George Kinel has that information
  • Once we know for sure we can meet these deadlines we can begin PR to ensure passage of the by-law in November.

Zoning By-Law for Met Tower

A zoning by-law is needed to allow the erection of the met tower that will be used to measure the wind. Accomplishing this requires:

  • Work with the Planning Department to draft an appropriate by-law
  • Meetings and hearings by the Planning Board to secure their approval and support
  • Town Meeting approval of the by-law

Access Matching Funds by November, 2009

Update (July, 2009)

I talked with Mark Sylvia at the Green Communities Division. Communities are being notified of the options for using their funds.

  • Towns with more than $13,000 in their fund (Needham is one of those) will be able to submit a final request for project funds as described below as well as purchase items off an approved list.
  • Towns with less than $13,000 will only be able to purchase items from an approved list.

I talked with Carys Lustig, Chip's assistant, who has received this information. I don't believe she was on board when Chip and I originally talked with Kate, so she appreciated knowing that we had discussed using around $10,000 - $12,000 of these funds for the wind project. One of the options she's researching for some of the funds is the installation of Big Belly solar-powered trash compacting units to be used along the rebuilt Chestnut Street.

Michael 19:27, 21 July 2009 (EDT)

June, 2009 - Important!!!

One of the funding sources we are counting on for the wind feasibility study is the matching funds that Needham has accumulated through the Solar Challenge and through residents' use of the "Clean Energy Choice" program.

Because of a change in the way energy efficiency funding is being handled, communities must access those funds by November 30th, 2009.

The details of the change are below, but the practical impact for us is that we must focus on getting the approvals needed to forward with the Met Tower this year. At this point, further research will be required to determine exactly how we satisfy the requirements to access the funds, but suffice it to say, the closer we are to being able to order equipment, the better. (This could even be a help to us, because we may have the only project that's really close to ready to go....)

Michael 13:12, 17 June 2009 (EDT)

As a result of the implementation of the Green Communities Act, passed by the Massachusetts legislature in 2008, the Green Communities Division at the Department of Energy Resources is now the centerpiece of the state’s investment in green energy in communities, Therefore, the Trust will be discontinuing the Clean Energy Choice match program.

No additional grants will be awarded to match customer premium payments for usage recorded by meter readings after June 30, 2009. However, a town will have until November 30, 2009, to access the balance of all Clean Energy Choice funds that it has accrued through the June 30, 2009 program end date. The Trust will post total municipal account balances by August 1, 2009 here. Municipalities will be able to utilize their remaining funds for local clean energy initiatives by submitting a Final Matching Grant Application after August 1, 2009 and before November 30, 2009. The Trust will mail hard copies of the Matching Grant Application to the Mayor or Select board of each community in August 2009.

Please note that customers’ green power payments for the following Clean Energy Choice-certified offerings will no longer be tax deductible contributions to the Trust after August 31, 2009: Cape Light Compact Green, Mass Energy New England GreenStart and Sterling MA Choice. Customers’ green power billings for New England Wind Fund will no longer be tax deductible contributions to the Trust after June 30, 2009. In addition, these suppliers will no longer be required to meet the Clean Energy Choice program consumer protection standards. We will provide customers of these suppliers with a letter on or before January 31, 2010 reporting the amount of your premium payments in 2009 that are eligible for recognition as tax deductible contributions to the Trust.

Even though the match program is being discontinued, those suppliers that were certified by Clean Energy Choice will continue to offer renewable energy options. For more information about these renewable energy options, please click here.

Summer 2009 Planned Work

Summer 2009:

  • Work with Lee Newman (Needham Planning Department) & Planning Board on Zoning by-law permitting Met Tower erection for November Town Meeting
  • Next step: Set up another meeting with Lee for Chip, Michael and others who want to help with the by-law process
  • Meet with Tony Delgaizo, Town Engineer, to develop the plan for the creation of the Engineering Plan for the Met Tower (Michael talked with Tony about this before Town Meeting and he is expecting to hear from us)
  • Next step: Set up meeting (Tony, Chip, Mario, (Chip - anyone else from town?) & whoever can participate from the wind team)
  • Communications plan to build awareness and support from Town Meeting members as well as broadly across Town

Once the Engineering Plan is completed (or has a date certain)

  • Meeting with Selectmen (Chip Laffey, Mario Araya)
  • Submission of the Engineering Plan to the DEP (Town)

Project Plan Outline

This is an initial list of items to be worked into the project plan going forward. David Harris has volunteered to put the plan together. (See the discussion tab for more information.) - Michael 22:37, 10 March 2009 (EDT)

Outline of points for Project Plan

  • Planning and Zoning
  • Work with Lee Newman, Chip Laffey and planning staff (after May TM) to draft a zoning article permitting erection of the tower
  • Zoning Hearings
  • Get Planning Board Support
  • Town Meeting Zoning Approval
  • Zoning article planned for November Town Meeting
  • Publicity and communications plan to ensure Town Meeting Support
  • DEP Approval to erect tower at RTS (Chip)
  • NB - Work with Chip to ensure new RTS Supervisor (Mario) is on board and involved
  • Chip has secured Engineering Plan from Hingham (who also installed on a landfill)
  • Town Engineering (Tony DelGaizo) has to adapt the plans to produce a design for the RTS
  • Chip has to submit the design to the DEP for approval
  • Get Selectmen's Support
  • Plan to have Chip present to Selectmen once we have Engineering Plan
  • Education
  • Follow up with Darcy Ronan on the education and curriculum planning

  • Funding
  • Maintain contact with funders to apprise them of status and progress
  • Seek additional support (Jane van Benten)
  • Ensure continuity of NEF funding since the tower will not go up until next fiscal year
  • Reconnect with MTC (as they have to approve uses of the Solar Challenge fund)
  • Line up funding and contractor for installation as soon as possible after November Town Meeting