Overview of Potential Wind Turbine Sites on Swan’s Island
1. Mohler Site: Away from most shore views, elevation: 128 feet, northwest orientation. Could site one small wind turbine. Needs about 500 feet of road improvement/construction. Too close to year-round residences for anything but a smaller turbine.(44 09’ 50.31” N; 68 27’ 36.50 W)
2. MacDuffie Site: Away from shore views, elevation: 140-170 feet, westerly orientation. Large enough to site two utility-scale wind turbines. Needs about 600 feet of road construction, considerable clearing of tree growth and potential upgrade of the first mile of utility lines along Fine Sand Beach Road. Site access through short portion of the Lewis property would shorten road construction and avoid interference with wetlands. About 2500 ft. from the closest year-round residences (2), and about 1500 ft. from the nearest summer residence.(44 09’ 48.18" N; 68 28’ 14.31"W)
3. Old Town Dump Site: Away from shore views, elevation: 118 feet; northwest orientation. Massachusetts has recently erected a wind turbine on top of a land fill (Hull, MA), but requires a very expensive foundation and DEP agreement. One smaller turbine could be built given careful stability testing for turbine foundation and careful siting to maximize distance from nearby residences. Six of the 10 Town-owned acres are available for construction. This site is problematic because of proximity to year-round residences. 44 10’ 08.16N; 68 27’ 35.50W)
4. TDS Site: Away from shore views, elevation: 136 feet. The site is a 4 acre parcel directly across the road from the Town Dump Site and adjacent to good road and utility connections. Could contain one smaller-sized turbine carefully sited to maximize distance from residences and historic cemetery. Further topography analysis needed. (44 10’ 05.60”N; 68 27’ 42.55”W)
5. Stockbridge Hill: Elevation: 150-170 feet, westerly orientation although somewhat inland. Could site up to two utility-scale turbines assuming no conflict with the cell phone tower and Coast Guard Tower. Continued use of the area to harvest gravel and ledge through blasting may be an issue for turbine foundation stability. Not as close to good road network as other sites. Needs about 1,000 feet of Stockbridge Hill road to be widened and improved to provide larger vehicle access. Not as near to utility tie-in, and larger transmission lines may be required to be installed. Effects of continued blasting for gravel and stone harvesting in the area should be considered in turbine foundation design. Several year-round residences are within 1600 feet (2) and three more are within 2500 feet (44 09’ 33.96"N; 68 25’ 24.03"W)
6. Quarry Hill: Wind turbine will be visible at a distance from most residences across Burnt Coat Harbor in Swan’s Island Village. Elevation: 97 feet, westerly orientation. Could site one smaller wind turbine. Needs 500 feet of road improvement/construction to reach turbine site. Consideration should be given to accessing the turbine site from the rear by building a road from Stanley Point Road along Town right of way. Generally too close to year-round residences along the eastern section of Minturn Loop. Town Owned, close to utility tie-in. (44 08’ 25.71” N; 68 25’ 56.15”W).
What Makes a Good Wind Turbine Site?
Many factors go into the selection of a good wind turbine site: High elevation, proximity to a good road and to a convenient tie-in to the electrical grid are just a few of the technical and engineering considerations which come into play. Environmentally, a site should avoid wetlands and interference with migratory bird routes. Wind turbine noise is a consideration, particularly in the fall and winter when the winds are blowing strong, and large turbines should be sited about 2500 feet from year-round residences to mitigate noise problems. For summer residences, about 1500 feet of setback should be planned since lower wind velocities and the presence of summer foliage tend to reduce turbine noise concerns. Obviously a site should be large enough to enable construction/erection of a turbine. Utility-scale turbines require large cranes, heavy earth-moving machinery, and a lot of space for construction. Once construction is completed, even a large turbine takes up very little space with a permanent footprint of about one acre. Since most of Swan’s Island’s wind comes out of the west (southwest in the summer and northwest in the colder months) a westerly orientation is a plus and allows the turbine to intercept the wind when the wind is at its strongest and before the flow of the wind is disrupted by the turbulence caused by the Island’s landmass itself. Sites which are on the western side of the island tend to minimize “Shadow flicker” – which occurs when the direction of the sun’s rays against the turbine blades cause repetitive shadows along the ground.
Tentative Site Selection
The MacDuffie Site, followed by the Stockbridge Hill Site provide the two best siting opportunities for Swan’s Island. Both provide ample space for the erection of a utility-scale turbine, with the option to erect a second turbine, should electrical demand or other economic conditions warrant it. Both are accessible to existing roads and to the Electric Grid. Both enjoy high elevation. The MacDuffie site offers a westerly orientation while the Stockbridge Hill site is a central island location. Both are located away from wetlands and migratory bird routes. The MacDuffie site is more remote from year-round residences and provides the best opportunity to mitigate noise concerns and shadow flicker.
This site was made possible by a grant from Island Institute.