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State officials rack up storage costs as they seek a home for wind turbines

With all this talk about wind power, it may seem tough to believe that state officials have had a difficult time finding a buyer for two wind turbines. That’s because it is tough to believe. But it’s also true.
Let’s hope that state officials are more successful with plans for a wind turbine testing center in Charlestown – which is getting an infusion of $25 million in federal stimulus funds – than they’ve been with finding a home for these two wind turbines.
The quasi-public Massachusetts Technology Collaborative decided to buy the two turbines in question for more than $5 million in 2005, using money from the state Renewable Energy Trust, which is funded by a surcharge on Massachusetts electric bills. Since that time, the MTC has racked up $132,775 in storage costs, according to Lisa Capone, a spokeswoman for the Patrick administration’s environmental agencies. The storage costs have also been funded by those surcharges on our bills.
The original purchase was a well-intended effort to help speed up the delivery of the two Vestas turbines (which can sometimes take up to two years to obtain) to the town of Orleans.
But the good intentions couldn’t prevent those plans from going awry. The Orleans project fell through, and the MTC began to look for another buyer. Plans for bringing them to Fairhaven hit a snag. Vestas ruled out possible sites in Princeton and Gloucester. Last summer, the MTC announced that it would consider buyers from outside the state if it couldn’t find a good home for the turbines here.
Capone says the MTC has held off on opening the process to out-of-state bidders, namely because the agency received numerous inquiries from possible buyers from within the state. She says state officials remain optimistic that the turbines will be deployed here in Massachusetts, but she doesn’t have a timeline for when a final buyer will be selected.
Meanwhile, the fees borne by you and me and the rest of the public continue to add up, as the blades sit in storage in Texas and the towers stay tucked away somewhere in Saskatchewan, according to Capone. At least the Patrick administration and the MTC haven’t given up on bringing the blades to Massachusetts. It’s just too bad that they still aren’t where they belong – spinning in the wind.