Gloucester turning to wind to power city, school buildings
Credit: By Steven A. Rosenberg, Globe Staff, www.boston.com 5 January 2012 ~~
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Beginning later this year, the city of Gloucester will become the first municipality north of Boston to fully power its city and school buildings with energy derived from wind turbines.
The turbines will be built in Gloucester in the coming months.
In late December, the city signed a 25-year agreement to purchase power from Equity Industrial Turbines, located on the Gloucester Engineering site in Blackburn Industrial Park.
The contract calls for Equity Industrial to provide subsidized power to the city – a provision that will save Gloucester $450,000 a year and more than $11 million over the next 25 years, according to Mayor Carolyn Kirk.
“From an energy standpoint, it’s clearly the way the country is moving, and a goal of my administration has been to have wind turbines built in the city,’’ said Kirk, who began her third term in office on Jan. 1.
Richard Kleiman, a spokesman for Equity Industrial, said the two turbines would cost $10 million to $11 million to purchase and build, and each would stretch 404 feet from the ground to the top of the blade. The 2-megawatt machines would provide up to 11 million kilowatt hours of energy to the city annually.
Kirk said the city spends around $1.1 million a year to power its buildings. Through the agreement, it will receive a 20 percent discount off the net metering rate for the first 9 million kilowatts produced, and a 75 percent discount rate off the rest of the power it consumes. According to the agreement, the project has to be in operation by Dec. 31.
Kleiman said the project has its permits, and the turbines would be separated by about 800 feet, erected in a parking lot and a wooded area at Gloucester Engineering. Since the area is near Route 128, in an industrial park bordering a conservation area and away from neighborhoods, Kleiman said the noise of the turbines would not disturb residents.
According to Kleiman, the site is ideal for wind power, and the average annual wind speed is 16 miles per hour. “It’s one of the windiest land-based sites in the state,’’ said Kleiman. “It’s an inexhaustible source of fuel.’’
Jim Duggan, a spokesman for Kirk, said the city had considered building its own wind turbine system, but after reviewing all options decided to minimize its risks by purchasing power from a private entity.
Kirk said the savings from the agreement could help pay for two major building projects she hopes to jump-start in the next two years: a new police and fire public safety building and a new facility to replace the aging West Parish Elementary School.
“This is an $11 million deal that will help the city of Gloucester make the kinds of investments that are long overdue,’’ said Kirk.
Kirk estimated that a new joint safety building would cost $12 million, and a new elementary school another $15 million.
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