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Berkshire Wind project nearly complete

HANCOCK – Workers finished erecting the last of the 10-new power generating wind turbines last week at the Berkshire Wind Power Project on Brodie Mountain in the Berkshires.

The wind power project, the largest built to date in the state, should be on line in February, said David F. Touhey, director of communications for the Ludlow-based Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Co.

The Hancock project has 10 turbines of 1.5-megawatts each, the Hancock project will nearly double the state’s wind-power capacity. The state’s wind power projects include which include more than 20 projects that range in size from 100 kilowatts to the 3-megawatt Princeton Municipal Light Department project, according to the state Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs web site.

“There are a lot of smaller renewable projects being developed by municipal utilities – solar and wind projects,” Touhey said. “We’re getting there.”

He said the wind project shouldn’t have too large an impact on customer’s bills because wind power makes up such a small comparative portion of the power the utilities sponsoring the project sell.

Touhey said wind speeds atop Brodie Mountain, one of the best inland wind sites in Massachusetts, average about 18 miles an hour , making it a Class 6 wind resource on an American Wind Energy Association scale of 1 to 7 with 7 being the best. The project is expected to operate at a capacity factor of approximately 40 percent and produce more than 52,500 megawatt hours of electricity a year, enough to power approximately 6,000 homes.

The Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative Corp. comprises 14 Massachusetts municipal utilities and the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Co.

Also this week, the Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative Corp. received A-level credit ratings on approximately $66 million in bonds it plans to issue to finance the project.

The project’s bond issue, expected to close later this month, recently received an A rating from Fitch Ratings and an A-minus rating from Standard & Poor’s Corp.

Project construction resumed in mid-October after being suspended for nearly a year due to legal issues that have been resolved.

The municipal utility members of the Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative Corp. are based in the communities of Ashburnham, Boylston, Groton, Holden, Hull, Ipswich, Marblehead, Paxton, Peabody, Shrewsbury, Sterling, Templeton, Wakefield and West Boylston. All provide electricity at retail to their customers.

MMWEC is a non-profit, public corporation and political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that provides a wide range of power supply, financial, risk management and other services to the municipal utilities.