Article

New spin on turbine proposal

IPSWICH — A Town Meeting warrant article to approve design and construction of a wind turbine on Town Farm Road has run afoul of an obscure law, but the collision may not prove fatal.

Article 18 requests $3.8 million to design and construct the turbine. The cost of the project would be reflected in electric bills rather than the tax rate, so the measure does not fall within the scope of Proposition 21/2. But it turns out that doesn't exempt it from needing approval at the ballot box.

The so-called Bamford Bylaw prohibits any borrowing that exceeds one-tenth of 1 percent of the town's total assessed property value without a vote at Town Election. In Ipswich, that means no more than about $2.5 million.

The Town Meeting article does not reference approval by voters at Town Election, and it's too late to add the question to the ballot anyway. That means the wording of the article will change, but not the substance.

Turbine proponents have recently pushed to get the project on a fast track to take advantage of the Federal Energy Policy Act that was passed last August. A section of the act provides federal, zero-interest financing for renewable-energy projects.

The financing is key to the backers' goal of making the turbine project revenue-neutral — any hike in electric rates to pay for it are projected to be offset by the cheaper electricity the turbine will... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Article 18 requests $3.8 million to design and construct the turbine. The cost of the project would be reflected in electric bills rather than the tax rate, so the measure does not fall within the scope of Proposition 21/2. But it turns out that doesn't exempt it from needing approval at the ballot box.
 
The so-called Bamford Bylaw prohibits any borrowing that exceeds one-tenth of 1 percent of the town's total assessed property value without a vote at Town Election. In Ipswich, that means no more than about $2.5 million.
 
The Town Meeting article does not reference approval by voters at Town Election, and it's too late to add the question to the ballot anyway. That means the wording of the article will change, but not the substance.
 
Turbine proponents have recently pushed to get the project on a fast track to take advantage of the Federal Energy Policy Act that was passed last August. A section of the act provides federal, zero-interest financing for renewable-energy projects.
 
The financing is key to the backers' goal of making the turbine project revenue-neutral — any hike in electric rates to pay for it are projected to be offset by the cheaper electricity the turbine will produce. That projection still works if the town has to pay interest on a loan, but it's a closer call.
 
Former Selectman Jim Engel, a member of the Electric Subcommittee who has been pitching the turbine to town boards recently, said yesterday the bylaw was an unexpected problem, but he doesn't think it will derail the project.
 
Town Meeting will be asked to approve a smaller amount of money, and if voters agree, he thinks the federal government will go ahead with its grant for the entire project.
 
"We sort of stubbed our toe, but I don't think we stumbled," he said. "I still expect to get the Town Meeting vote.


Source: http://www.ecnnews.com/cgi-...

MAR 15 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/1694-new-spin-on-turbine-proposal
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