Members of the West Tisbury town energy committee last week described to the selectmen the committee's efforts to build a wind turbine at the West Tisbury School. If built, committee members forecast, the turbine would supply all the energy for the school and possibly more, which might then be resold to NSTAR for $0.05 per kilowatt.
But, after meeting with town counsel, committee members learned the town cannot proceed without permission from the West Tisbury school committee. Since the school will be the end user of the generated energy, it will need to be the applicant or co-applicant for grants to underwrite feasibility studies, design, and construction.
"Because it has become complex, I don't think we should throw the baby out with the bathwater, but it's not as simple as it was," energy committee member Shelton Bank said. He explained that the committee didn't originally realize the school must play such a central role in the project.
The school committee has suggested that a sub-group of the energy committee be selected to meet with school leaders to discuss ideas that would then be presented to the school committee as a whole. School leaders also said they want to make sure the town is behind the project. The energy committee would like to add the wind turbine project to the warrant for the annual town meeting in April.
The selectmen offered some suggestions, but said they would ultimately favor of the project.
Selectman Glenn Hearn asked if there were any other site for the windmill. He also suggested the committee look into how Aquinnah is handling a similar project.
Energy committee member Richard Knabel said Aquinnah's proposal is different, in that its supporters want to set the turbine up as a municipal utility. "We should just focus on the end result, and that is to have a wind generating turbine and reduce our dependence on electricity, and I certainly support your committee going forth and doing that," said selectman and school committee member Skip Manter.
Selectman Dianne Powers agreed. "Just think of how satisfying that will be when you get to the end result."