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State to seek developer to build industrial-scale windmill at Blandford rest stop on Mass. Pike  

Credit:  By STAN FREEMAN, www.masslive.com 28 April 2009 ~~

As part of Gov. Deval L. Patrick’s commitment to clean energy, the state will seek a developer for an industrial-scale wind turbine at the Blandford rest stop on the Massachusetts Turnpike.

The turnpike authority began the process of seeking bids for the project Tuesday, with the deadline for proposals set for June 30.

The turbine, which would stand perhaps 300 to 400 feet high with the blades extended vertically, would be constructed on a state-owned, 68-acre site adjacent to the rest stop. The turbine would produce up to 1.5 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 400 homes.

The high visibility of large wind turbines has been a reason why some have objected to them, claiming they spoil the scenery. However, the high visibility of one on the turnpike might help convince many in the public that they can be pleasing to the eye, paving the way for greater support for building them in the commonwealth, said James F. Manwell, director of the Renewable Energy Research Laboratory at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

“When people see a few turbines, they tend to like them and they get over their fear of them,” he said.

He acknowledged that siting wind turbines in the Bay State has been difficult. The Cape Wind project, a proposed offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound off Cape Cod, has been fiercely resisted by some residents there, including the Kennedy family, because of the anticipated impact on ocean views.

Building a turbine on the turnpike “would give people a chance to see one and make a decision for themselves” about how much they spoil scenery, Manwell said. “There are a lot of opportunities in the commonwealth for wind turbines,” he said.

Patrick is aiming for wind turbines in the state to produce 2,000 megawatts of power by 2020, enough electricity to meet the needs of about 800,000 homes.

A study was completed in January by the Renewable Energy Research Laboratory that identified the Blandford rest stop, the highest elevation on the turnpike, as one of the most promising state-owned sites for wind power.

The state hopes to negotiate a long-term lease for the site with a developer, who would build, operate and maintain the wind turbine, selling the output to the Western Massachusetts Electric Co. or another retail electricity provider.

The project would be subject to local zoning. However, it has the support of state legislators and municipal officials, according to state environmental officials.

Source:  By STAN FREEMAN, www.masslive.com 28 April 2009

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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