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Lightolier begins building what will be state’s largest wind turbine

FALL RIVER – Lightolier has begun building what will be the tallest wind turbine in Massachusetts, at 415 feet to the tip of the highest blade.

Recently, the massive concrete base was poured behind its Industrial Park headquarters on Airport Road, where the 2-megawatt turbine will rise in the coming months. It will be the tallest structure in the area aside from the twin cooling towers at Brayton Point power plant in Somerset, which each stand 497 feet.

It will be the tallest turbine in the state, according to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, an agency that provides reimbursements and incentives for renewable energy projects. Currently, the tallest turbine is 396 feet.

The turbine’s hub, from where the blades will rotate, will be 262 feet above ground. Each blade will be 305 feet long, and the concrete base of the structure is 60 feet across.

Lightolier, a part of the Philips electronics company, declined to discuss project specifics.

Other turbines in the area are significantly shorter. Portsmouth High School in Portsmouth, R.I., has a 213-foot turbine, shorter than the 240-foot tower at nearby Portsmouth Abbey. The wind turbine at Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay is 248 feet tall.

The Lightlolier turbine is one of two large-scale towers going up this fall in the area. The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth plans to soon begin work on a 243-foot turbine in a clearing between the library and Cedar Dell Pond that is expected to offset 1 to 2 percent of the campus’s energy use. The 600-kilowatt turbine will be only 12 feet shorter than the campanile tower in the center of campus.

Bristol Community College also hopes to build a large-scale turbine soon. It has proposed a 334-foot turbine at the north end of the Elsbree Street campus that would offset one-fourth of the campus’s electrical use. Permitting is still needed before construction can begin.

Lightolier is also the latest Fall River-area company to turn to renewable energy in recent years.

Nearby in the Industrial Park, Matouk, a linen manufacturer, has 200 solar panels on the roof of its headquarters. BCC has solar panels on the roofs of three of its buildings, and two Westport companies – Crosby & Baker on Main Road and Whaling City Transit on Sanford Road – each have more than 100 rooftop panels.

A few Westport companies also have used wind turbines to offset their energy use, including Noquochoke Orchards and Sylvan Nursery.