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Municipal electric companies buy into wind farm project  

Wakefield – A wind farm in the Berkshires will one day have a direct impact on electricity consumers in Wakefield, Ipswich, Marblehead and 11 other Mass Municipal Wholesale Electric Company member towns.

In an effort to take a green approach to energy production and consumption, Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department and a subset of other MMWEC towns, has entered into an agreement to purchase the assets of Berkshire Wind Power LLC. The participants have purchased the assets for $4 million.

Under the agreement, the cooperative purchased all of Berkshire Wind’s assets, including easements, permits, agreements, engineering documents, developed properties and other assets that will enable the owners to initially build and operate 10 1.5 megawatt wind turbines on Brodie Mountain in Hancock.

Berkshire Wind Power is an in process permitted project on Brodie Mountain. Once known for skiing and winter and summer tubing, Brodie Mountain is now the site of both the wind farm project and a timeshare residential project.

Dion said, “The access road has been constructed and some of the exaction work has been completed. We are planning to write an order for 10 wind turbines in September, which will put the project online in late 2009 or early 2010.”

Tim Henry, manager of the Ipswich Municipal Light Department, said that Ipswich has bought in for 6 percent of the project. The project is significant in the future planning of Ipswich’s power consumption as he expects to piggy back the purchase of his town’s own wind turbine with that of the Berkshire Wind Power project.

“We’re hoping for a volume discount,” he said.

Dave Touhey, corporate communications manager at MMWEC said, “We expect to issue a RFP next week to purchase 12 wind turbines. There would be 10 for the Berkshire project and one each for projects in Ipswich and Templeton.”

Ipswich Town Meeting voters approved the installation of a wind turbine at the end of Town Farm Road near the landfill site.

Both the Ipswich turbine and the Berkshire turbines will be constructed at least 1/2 mile from residential areas, said Henry.

In the case of the Berkshire project, the turbines will be at a greater elevation than residences are allowed, said a representative at the Mass Technology Collaborative.

Electricity consumers in both Ipswich and Wakefield will not see a rate increase in their bills as a result of this project. Financing terms are currently being discussed and it is expected that a 20-50 year financing plan will be implement making the impact minimal on consumers from all member towns.

WMGLD will be the second largest shareholder, owning nearly 10 percent of the project that is expected to have a total capacity of 15 megawatts. Peabody Municipal Light Plant will be the largest shareholder with ownership of just under 17 percent.

“This is a great opportunity, not only for the WMGLD, but also for reducing our dependence on fossil fuels,” said Dion who now serves on the Berkshire Wind Cooperatives Board of Directors. “When the project goes on line as expected in 2010, Berkshire Wind will be just a piece of our portfolio and will help diversify our mix of energy sources.”

The other 11 communities joining Wakefield, Ipswich and Marblehead in the Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative are Ashburnham, Boylston, Groton, Holden, Hull, Paxton, Peabody, Shrewsbury, Sterling, Templeton, and West Boylston.

By Donna O’Neil

Wicked Local Wakefield

24 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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