Question: Having lived in Easthampton since 2001, I am curious to know why I have never observed the windmill on Mount Tom moving.
Answer: Although the windmill, or turbine, is not operable, as you note, the site is still used for data collection, James F. Manwell, professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, said.
UMass installed the windmill on Mount Tom in 1994. It has a rotor diameter of 80 feet and sits on an 80-foot-tall tower. The UMass Renewable Energy Research Laboratory acquired the windmill, which was designed and constructed in the early 1980s by Engineering Sciences Inc. of Irvine, Calif., Manwell said.
The windmill was brought online in January 1995. Its electricity originally went to the Mt. Tom ski area, which closed in 1998, he said.
The ski area was subdivided. Some land went to the U.S. Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, some to the state Division of Conservation and Recreation and some to the Holyoke Boys and Girls Club, he said.
“With the losing of the ski area and then the subdivision of the land, use of the site became much more problematic,” Manwell said.
Options considered over the years to reuse the windmill included relocating the facility to a Holyoke Gas and Electric Department site or replacing the original turbine with more modern and flexible features, he said.
“None of these efforts have so far been successful,” Manwell said.
Still, he said, “the facility served an extremely important role in the education of all involved including many undergraduate engineering students.”
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