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Holy Name readies turbine site to harness wind power  

WORCESTER— The wind will soon be doing the work at Holy Name Central Catholic Junior Senior High School, but for now, it’s people sweating out the summer days as the school prepares to erect the city’s first wind turbine.

The school received its building permit about two weeks ago and plans to have the turbine in place by the start of school. The 75-foot-long blades are already on site, and the tower is scheduled to arrive Aug. 18. Once completed, the 242-foot-tall turbine is expected to generate enough electricity for the entire school, with the school possibly buying supplemental power in the winter and selling surplus energy back to the grid during the summer. The school also plans to sell renewable energy credits to individuals or companies whose tax-deductible contributions would help support the turbine, according to Holy Name President Mary Riordan.

This week, Martin Brothers Contracting, contractors for Sustainable Energy Developments, is drilling a hole in the bedrock of the school’s 45-acre Granite Street campus to make way for the tower. The wind turbine itself weighs slightly more than 100 tons when complete, and the contractors will put about 250 tons of concrete into the ground, said Kevin M. Schulte, co-founder and vice president of business development for SED, which is based in Ontario, N.Y. The firm is in the early stages of working with Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School and Overlook Masonic Health Center in Charlton to bring turbines there.

Using sensors and computers, the turbine at Holy Name will automatically rotate to face the direction of the wind, and the blades will also adjust themselves to best capture the breeze, Mr. Schulte said. The turbine stops and locks in place when wind speeds reach more than 55 mph.

The project, four years in the making, began when Mrs. Riordan, who was facing steep energy bills at the school, asked Worcester Polytechnic Institute students to study whether they could take advantage of the school’s windy campus.

Later, the Sisters of St. Anne, who founded the school, gave the school $50,000 to pay a consultant to research the details. That was the first funding for a project that will cost between $1.4 million and $1.5 million total. The price includes that first $50,000, $12,000 for the building permit and the cost of burying power lines that serve the school and run near the turbine site.

The school already has about $900,000 in grants and donations for the project, including $575,000 from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and significant donations from several foundations.

Mrs. Riordan works on the turbine project full time and is still trying to raise the rest, but the Diocese of Worcester has agreed to give the school a 10-year loan on whatever amount it cannot raise.

Bishop Robert J. McManus has been “extremely supportive” of the project, she noted.

“It is hard not to be an environmentalist, because that’s part and parcel of the Catholic tradition. You value what you have, you take care of what God has given you, and you share it with the people around you,” said Mrs. Riordan, who is a former science teacher and spent 23 years on the Auburn Conservation Commission. “I just believe alternative energy is the way to go.”

By Jacqueline Reis
Telegram & Gazette Staff

Worcester Telegram & Gazette

10 July 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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