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FALL RIVER – A city manufacturer is changing the local landscape with the operation of a 2-megawatt wind turbine as part of an overall strategy for reaching net zero energy use.
Philips Lightolier, a division of Philips Lighting, has built a 415-foot wind turbine at its Fall River Industrial Park plant that is expected to generate up to 70 percent of the lighting manufacturer’s electricity requirements.
At about 40 stories from base to blade tip, the turbine is the tallest structure in the city and one of the largest turbines in the state, taller even than the two turbines under construction in nearby Fairhaven.
On Tuesday, state and local officials, along with students from Durfee High School and Lightolier employees, gathered at the company’s 326,000-square-foot facility to celebrate the structure’s completion. Although operational, the wind turbine is in a testing phase and will be connected to the electrical grid by the end of February, the company said.
The turbine is from Sany, a Chinese manufacturer, but components are from six different countries, including China and the U.S.
At the gathering, Philips Lighting North America CEO Zia Eftekhar said Philips is committed to sustainability, not just by reducing its energy use but also by producing more energy efficient lighting.
Twenty percent of all power produced is used to light buildings, Eftekhar said, yet two-thirds of buildings still use old technology. If all commercial buildings were to switch to energy efficient lighting, he said, there would be an $80 billion savings in the cost of electricity.
According to Eftekhar, Philips Lighting’s goal is to reach net zero energy use, where it produces as much energy as it consumes, in all of its facilities. In addition to the turbine, the company has worked to reduce its electricity use by 40 percent, its water use by 78 percent, and its natural gas use by 36 percent.
“Today we are taking another step toward the realization of the net zero objectives in Fall River,” said Eftekhar.
In his remarks, Gov. Deval Patrick praised the state’s growing clean energy industry, saying Massachusetts now has nearly 5,000 companies in the sector, employing 64,000 people. Last year, clean tech jobs grew by 7 percent, he said.
The Philips Lightolier turbine, Patrick said, will offset the production of nearly 30,000 tons of carbon dioxide over the lifetime of the project.
“Through projects such as this, Massachusetts is building energy self-reliance, breaking free from the price volatility and pollution of fossil fuels and creating jobs for our residents,” said Patrick.
A public-private collaboration, the state lent its support to the project through two Massachusetts Clean Energy Center grants, a $40,000 one for a feasibility study in 2006 and a $500,000 grant to design and construct the turbine in 2009.
Set in a predominately business area, the closest residential homes are more than a half mile, or 2,640 feet, away, the company said.
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