Tower to test wind power at Sterling site

Norwich Bulletin|Francesca Kefalas|August 21, 2006

STERLING -- More than six months of testing have convinced Exeter Energy to take the next step in its plan to put electricity-producing windmills in Sterling. Ken Wycherley, chief executive officer of Exeter Energy, said the company will erect a tower 160 feet high this week to measure wind speeds and directions on land it is leasing from the town in the industrial park.

"We've been measuring the wind at ground level," Wycherley said. "We're seeing some wind shear, so we want to see what conditions are like higher up."

Exeter Energy wants to use all 73 remaining acres in the industrial park to put up 30-35 windmills, which will produce 50 megawatts of electricity. The company owns the tire-burning energy plant in the industrial park and already has a transmission line, which makes the proposal more economically feasible, Wycherley said.

Sharon Chviek said it has not been decided whether the town will sell all 73 acres to Exeter Energy or lease the land to the company if the windmill proposal moves forward. It will be up to the town to make a decision, however. Leasing the land means it could still have some use for the town, she said.

First Selectman Russell Gray said the land could be used for town storage or some similar use.

The 73 acres are filled with ledge rock and difficult terrain and is not highly marketable.

"You could raise goats on it," Selectman Neil Cook said.

Having the windmills would help the town in multiple ways, Cook said. It would provide tax dollars and add to the town's unique character. But most importantly, it would create clean energy that could help consumers.

"The windmills are only a baby step," Cook said. "But it's a step in the right direction."

Resident Robert Jordan said he hopes the windmills go through, but he does not want the town to become a destination because of them.

"We've already got too many houses going up in town," Jordan said. "But if the windmills can help lower our taxes, then they will be a good thing."


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