HANCOCK – Trying to further capitalize on the success of the wind turbine at Jiminy Peak, owners of the mountain resort have established a new company designed to build wind turbines and sell the power to private customers.
The trick is that the new company, called EOS Ventures, will own and maintain the turbines on the customer’s property.
The CEO of the new venture is Tyler Fairbank, who officially leaves his post as president of the Berkshire Economic Development Corp. on April 2. The new company hopes to have two wind projects under way before year’s end.
Fairbank is CEO and a full partner in the business, along with the two co-owners of Jiminy Peak – his father, Brian Fairbank, and Joe O’Donnell, who will also serve as company advisers.
The venture’s launch coincides with a surge in the alternative energy industry, with businesses tapping into resources such as biofuel, solar and wind for power.
Tyler Fairbank said the business model allows entities without the money to build their own turbine – the single turbine at Jiminy Peak cost $4 million – to benefit from a private, sustainable energy source at a consistent and dependable
For example, a municipally owned water treatment plant is notorious for needing a constant flow of substantial amounts of electricity and for being expensive to power, he said. A city that does not have the resources to install a wind turbine could now have access to the technology and the ability to provide its own power at a level cost from year to year.
Jiminy Peak was the first private company in the country to install a megawatt-class wind turbine. Brian Fairbank said the resort was “setting an example for others to follow.”
He said phone calls started coming in from others hoping to do something similar. But a common theme was a lack of money and expertise.
“It soon became apparent it was time for Jiminy Peak to branch out and do something totally different, something to help the environment,” the elder Fairbank said.
Tyler Fairbank said the ideal customer will be large-scale users “with the desire to reduce their energy costs.”
EOS offers what Tyler Fairbank called a turn-key product – EOS and its business partners will put up all the money and do all the work. All the customer has to do is buy the power that comes out of it. After 10 years, he added, the customer may have the option of buying the project and the energy it produces.
“Demand for electricity is going up, we know that,” Fairbank said. “We also know there are no major new power generation centers being planned – supply will not increase for the Northeast. So the smart, large-scale users are looking for a way to get out of that circle.”
EOS will begin by marketing wind turbine projects and hopes, as the business grows, to move into other power resources like solar photovoltaics or biodiesel-fueled generators.
The younger Fairbank said the initial plan was to wait before launching the new business, but watching what was happening in the marketplace, “it became blatantly obvious that the energy industry is the biggest opportunity in the country right now. We just had to pull the trigger.”
EOS officials are in talks with GE in an effort to establish a stable supply of turbines. The young company has entered into a strategic relationship with Sustainable Energy Developments, or SED, the company that was in charge of erecting the turbine at Jiminy Peak last summer.
Kevin Schulte, vice president and co-founder of SED, said some of his customers have hit the money-barrier when seeking turbines. Now, he said, SED can refer such customers to EOS.
“This is a great way for businesses to green up and stabilize electricity costs,” he said.
Tyler Fairbank said there are 20 potential customers “in the pipeline,” and he hopes to have two projects under way by the end of the year, with another four to six coming up in 2009.
Brian Fairbank noted that active customers right now are mostly municipalities, although some universities have also expressed interest.
At first, EOS will take advantage of Jiminy Peak’s administrative expertise such as accounting, marketing and public relations, Tyler Fairbank said.
Speaking at a press conference announcing the venture yesterday, State Rep. Denis Guyer, D-Dalton, praised the venture for advancing the needs of business and the environment.
“I believe new ventures like this will be the job growth of tomorrow,” he said.
State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, agreed.
“We know there is a desire and demand for businesses and not-for-profits to do this, but they lack the knowledge,” he said. “This is a model for the rest of the commonwealth and hopefully for the rest of the nation.”
Tyler Fairbank said the initial push will be in Massachusetts and the Northeast. Expansion nationwide is possible, he said, especially if ski resorts in the Northwest show an interest.
Both Fairbank and Schulte said public opposition will be taken into consideration when evaluating a potential project.
“We will work only in communities that are supportive of wind power,” Schulte said. “And the timing of this is not only right but critical – there are many people who have the desire to have this kind of technology in their backyards.”
Tyler Fairbank called it the perfect blend of business and social consciousness.
“We can make it a cleaner environment going forward,” Brain Fairbank added. “This is a new beginning.”
By Scott Stafford, Berkshire Eagle Staff
7 March 2008
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