Environmental Secretary Richard K. Sullivan, Gov. Deval Patrick and Meredith Cochran get ready to cut a green ribbon to dedicate the Berkshire Wind Project on Brodie Mountain. More photos here.
HANCOCK, Mass. — State officials and alternative energy advocates and contractors clustered on a windswept mountaintop Thursday to dedicate a project 13 years in the making that will double the state's wind energy output.
The Berkshire Wind Power Project of 10 GE wind-turbines along the Taconic ridgeline between Routes 7 and 43 will generate enough energy to power 6,000 homes.
It's a long way from the single coal stove that heated the family farm decades ago, said Meredith Cochran, who owns part of the land on which the wind turbines were built.
"All the way from 19th-century charcoal to 21st-century wind, the farm still remains an income- producing farm," said Cochran, as the turbine on the highest point on Brodie Mountain swung more than 200 feet above her. She spoke of her parents' commitment to the environment and the organic practices she and her husband had continued. "My parents would have loved it, utilizing new technologies with an existing resource — wind. New products to support the farm and help diminish our country's dependency on corporate energy sources."
The project began in 1998 as a private venture but moved in fits and starts as it was bogged down by funding problems and appeals by environmentalists; the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Co., a public utility serving municipal utilities in 14 towns and cities, bought the assets in 2008. After a eight-month setback because of a federal lawsuit by adjoining Silverleaf Resorts Inc., which is building condominiums on the former Brodie ski area, the newly created Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative Corp. issued a $65 million bond in 2010 to complete the 15 megawatt project.
Only one turbine was spinning on Thursday but the other nine are expected to come online by the end of the month, inching the state closer to Gov. Deval Patrick's goal of 2,000 megawatts of wind and 150 Mw of solar energy being produced in the state. Brodie is considered a prime inland location for wind power, rating 6 on a scale of 7 with a 40 percent capacity.
"I'm excited about this project; I'm excited about what it portends for the future," said Patrick, who spoke during an oddly calm break in the blustery air. "There are opportunities here for us to show a whole new level of environmental stewardship, opportunities here for us to generate our own power and to free ourselves not just from the dependence on foreign oil and gas but from the price spikes that are an inherent part of that market."
Richard K. Sullivan, secretary of Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, said the state spends more than $20 billion every year in energy and 80 percent, or $18 billion, not only goes outside the state, it goes outside the country. Projects such as Berkshire Wind are creating a home-grown market for energy needs, he said, adding that Patrick was the only governor with "the vision to put energy and environment in the same secretariat, understanding that good clean energy decisions were also good environmental decisions."
Later, Patrick reiterated a point made by Sullivan on the 65 percent in job growth in green energy over the last few years. "Because we have made a point of cultivating that industry and it's an industry that makes a lot of sense in Massachusetts because of the concentration of brainpower and our tradition of innovation and invention," he said. "It builds on technology and technicial capability that we have here right now."
Berkshire Wind is currently the largest completed wind project. Two others, both private, have also been years in development and have had difficulty overcoming zoning, permitting, appeals and lawsuits. The Minuteman Project is at a standstill over wetlands permitting and buyers for its power; Hoosac Wind in Florida and Monroe has begun construction after seven years and, when completed, will be double the size of Berkshire Wind.
Patrick said it was important to pass a wind power siting bill currently in the Legislature. "We need the wind siting bill ... you know they said this project is 13 years in the making. It shouldn't take 13 years — that adds to costs. It means we are that much longer in breaking ourselves of dependency on oil and gas and we need alternatives," he said. "We can have wind siting reform that respects local interests and local control and that's what we're trying to get."
Cochran, whose family was battered by lawsuits and calls for boycotts of their Christmas tree farm, said landowners should have a "predictable and reasonable number of permitting and hoops and hurdles."
The towns of Lanesborough and Hancock were very supportive of the project, said Ronald C. DeCurzio, chief executive officer of MMWEC, but added that being a public concern had advantages in permitting and pushing through projects of this nature.
"Public power does have the ability to act quickly, to get financing quickly, and they are on the forefront of reducing our carbon footprint," he said. Two of the participating municipalities, Hull and Leverett, began pursuing wind power as early as 1985.
Sullivan asked Lanesborough and Hancock to continue to lead the way by showing renewable energy "can be developed safely and responsibly."
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Sustainable renewable energy is the only way to go. It will be the answer to break our dependence on foreign and local oil and gas pricing.
“Ten wind turbines 390 feet tall from ground to blade tip will offset some 1.17 million barrels of oil.” This is a lie. Only about 1% of our electricity is generated from oil. Not only that, but INDUSTRIAL WIND TURBINES DO NOT PROVIDE RENEWABLE ENERGY!!! Developers claim they provide clean renewable energy, but this is far from the truth. After many years of wind turbines in use, not one coal or gas plant the world over has been decommissioned because of IWTs...and eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels is their raison d’etre. To quote an expert: “Because wind blows intermittently, electric utilities must either keep their conventional power plants running all the time to make sure the lights don’t go dark, or continually ramp up and down the output from conventional coal-or gas-fired generators (called “cycling”). But coal-fired and gas-fired generators are designed to run continuously, and if they don’t, fuel consumption and emissions generally increase.” This is happening in places like Colorado and Texas where CO2 and power plant pollution have increased since they installed wind farms: http://www.denverpost.com/headlines/ci_15081808
Plus, property values close to IWTs take a big hit due to genuine noise and health concerns. For this reason, Denmark now requires power companies to compensate owners close to wind turbines for loss-of-value: http://www.ens.dk/en-us/supply/renewable-energy/windpower/onshore-wind-power/loss-of-value-to-real-property/sider/forside.aspx
No MA politician or wind developer will ever suggested that home values should be guaranteed. Homes close to wind turbine installations lose tens of thousands of dollars in equity, and the closest ones can become unsaleable. IWTs should not be sited close to residential areas - PERIOD. And homeowners should not be asked to be good “green patriots” and “take one for the team” for a technology that does not live up to its claims! In fact, IWT’s are a gift to the coal and gas industries. Here’s are two great articles on how inefficient they are at providing power:
Implementing better conservation efforts such as LED lighting in government and commercial buildings, better insualation, etc. will reduce carbon output and power demand better than an additional plethora of IWTs.
Can some explain how the following quote from the article to be true"will offset some 1.17 million barrels of oil."? It is patently false and just more false information handed out by the wind zealots. There are other claims in this article that are just as false. Who is going to pay for this energy which cost 3 to 4 times the cost of energy from standard energy sources? Right the ratepayers and the taxpayers with the money going into the pockets of the developers. Why do you think that many towns in MA are voting these project down?
Our tax dollars are subsidizing this failed and outdated technology and we are also paying significantly higher electric rates than we would without it because power companies are mandated to purchase wind turbine power at a much higher rate than conventional power. And over the next ten years rates will continue to increase, hurting those who can least afford it and businesses the most. But the biggest sin is that the world over, after all these years, not one coal or gas plant has been decommissioned because of wind turbines. In fact, the more wind turbines are built, the more conventional plants remain fired up to supplement all those wind turbines when they’re not spinning or the wind is variable, which is always. There are a lot of hot summer days during peak demand when they sit idle. All in all, industrial wind turbines fail to live up to their claims of reducing CO2 and our dependence on fossil fuels…and so…WHY IS ANYBODY TRYING TO BUILD THEM ANYWHERE? FYI, the first company in the industrial wind turbine business was Enron. They used them as a driving force to help commoditize electricity and carbon credit trading. When they went under, they sold Enron Wind to GE, and the monster lived on. Madoff would have loved to be in on the wind turbine scam. The problem is that the State of Massachusetts is in on the wind turbine scam. The state is making money through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a ten state Cap and Trade program. However, several of the states are now looking to get out of RGGI because it too is failing to live up to its claims.
Ten commercial wind turbines equate to 5.2 million dollars each at a cost of 52 million dollars which does not include the three phase power structures that cost around 25 million dollars. We have seen maintenance, repair, and operations fail within the first two years of commercial wind turbine operation .One example is the Portsmouth High School wind turbine in Portsmouth ,Rhode Island and in Falmouth ,Massachusetts two commercial wind turbines were placed so close to homes the residents are living in their basements .
These wind turbines are paid for by all of us and given to towns like Trojan Horses .The towns think they are getting something for nothing ! It's nonsense there is on free lunch !
Industrial wind is a bunco scheme of enormous consequence. And people who value intellectual honesty should not quietly be fleeced by such mendacity, even from their government.
I would like to share with you my concerns for commercial wind turbines on our Berkshire Hills. Below are a few questions and my views addressing those concerns.
Are our Berkshire ridge-lines suitable for wind turbines? Everyone seems to assume, because wind developers are targeting our ridge-lines, that these are viable places for wind turbines. Let’s look at that. Anyone who has lived in the Berkshires knows how fickle our winds blow. Mostly they blow in the winter months when the demand for electricity is lowest, and hardly at all in the hot summer months when the demand for electricity is highest. But beyond that, we must look at the science. Wind is rated by classes: Class 1 the lowest, class 7 the highest. Each class is a multiple of the previous class. That means the efficiency of wind from one class to another, laid out in a graph, is not a straight line but rather a steep curve, increasing sharply as you approach the higher classes. Mr. Quinlan, the wind scientist from the University of Massachusetts, hinted at this in his remarks at the Wind Energy Reform Act forum in Pittsfield, MA on October, 19th. “A little increase in wind makes a big difference.” According to the Massachusetts Wind Resource map our Berkshire ridge-lines are generally rated from class 3 to class 4. In comparison, off-shore wind classes generally range from class 5 to class 7. With a barely marginal class 4 wind on our ridge-lines why are we considering a plan that is not wholly supported by science? Certainly, if we must use wind to generate electricity the logical thing is to put the turbines where there is wind.
Is there a real need for more electrical generation?
The spin on the urgency to build more generating facilities is simply astonishing. It reminds me of a story when I was a child: Chicken Little, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling.” We waste a significant amount of the electricity we generate, through poor transmission lines, inefficient lighting and home appliances, poor building structures and building codes, and lack of conservation. Shouldn’t we focus more on these very real and solvable issues before we promote a feel-good solution that in actuality will enable these inefficiencies to continue? Doesn’t it make sense to plug the holes before we add more generation? And, unlike wind turbines, wouldn’t a dedicated plan to plug those holes create much needed long term jobs in the process?
Is wind a good source of energy for commercial electricity? Most people assume that commercial electricity is stored somewhere waiting to be used. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is the energy source that is stored, not the electricity. Therein lies the crux. Think about that. Wind energy cannot be stored, nor can commercial electricity. Now consider this; electricity is bid-on and sold 24 hours before it is needed. Generation and distribution must be produced on demand; otherwise there are blackouts, brownouts, and huge fines. Obviously, wind is not available on demand. It is unpredictable, intermittent, and unreliable...(and nowhere in Massachusetts more so than on our Berkshire ridges). And because of these drawbacks there must always be standby generation from other sources to compensate for interruptions and surges. These standby sources are usually selected from the most polluting because they are the cheapest. So, until there is a viable way to store the electricity wind turbines generate, wind is absolutely the most inefficient and inappropriate way to produce commercial electricity.
How big are these things, and do we really know their effects on wildlife?
Studies of potential wind development onshore show up to 3386 industrial turbines throughout Massachusetts: 2474 on state land, 912 on private land. The turbines range from 380 feet to 500 feet from base to blade tip. Each single turbine location uses approximately 5 acres of land. And this has to be clear-cut and blasted of ledge to level for the base. Because of their height and location they must be lighted 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Now for comparison, Greylock tower is 93 feet tall...and certain times of the year is unlighted because of potential migrating bird and bat mortality. We can only imagine the effects of not one, but scores of these gigantic, whirling, flashing wind turbines, lined up along our Berkshire ridge-lines, attracting and destroying anything and everything that comes in their path. The picture is not pretty. To locate and service these huge turbines long and extremely wide roads must be built, often on steep slopes and across brooks holding the last specimens of native trout. Silting and erosion are very real problems.
Can the wind industry be trusted?
The wind industry has tricked its way into the proponents hearts and minds with untruths. They proclaim their turbines will produce multi-megawatts of much needed electricity, enough to supply the needs of thousands of homes, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and help clean up the environment. The spin sounds great, and it is tempting to buy into it. But the spin is not the truth. In fact, getting useful information from the wind developers, such as output at different wind classes, annual useable electricity produced, and subsidies and costs associated with that production is next to impossible. Economics and real numbers are rarely discussed. Wind turbines on our Berkshire Hills are not about protecting the environment, local or global...or about reducing our dependence on foreign oil...or even about electricity. It is all about money. Lots of money. With the hundreds of millions of dollars in grants, tax incentives, and saleable renewable energy certificates (RECs) this will be the greatest transfer of wealth from the taxpayers and rate-payers of Massachusetts to the pockets of foreign developers in the history of this Commonwealth.
Is the trade-off to our quality of life worth it? Wind turbines on our Berkshire Hills will take up huge tracts of pristine land for very little energy produced. “Keep Out” signs will be posted, many of them prohibiting us from our beloved hiking trails and wildlife viewing areas. We will face flickering strobe lights, and the whoosh, whoosh of revolving blades, day and night. All told, they will destroy our scenic views, despoil what defines our Berkshires as beautiful, diminish our quality of life, endanger the ecosystems of our most sensitive areas, kill migrating birds and bats, reduce property values, enable existing polluters to continue polluting, and distract from real solutions to our energy problems.
Is there a better way? With increased efficiency and reduced costs of solar energy on the horizon, new energy science in fuel cells, more awareness and conformity of conservation techniques, and green building mandates for all new structures, wind generated electricity will soon be reduced to just another big bad idea. As a wise man once told me, “Patience my son”.
Closing thoughts: What we need is not a feel-good solution to a complex problem. What we need is an independent science initiative to determine best practices for energy conservation, energy efficiency, and realistic alternative energy sources. We need wisdom and patience, and not be influenced by “Chicken Little, and the sky is falling”.
I would agree about 'sustainable', but the components of wind turbines aren't 'sustainable', our land and ocean water space for wind turbines isn't 'sustainable', at least not for the "farms" planned in such a rush or the current turbine technology. How much forest was cleared? How close are the homes? I do hope that in all that time, proper environmental review was done. Are avian species going to be monitored?
I do suggest that state and federal would be required to put a dollar match into research on the effects of turbines on humans and wildlife and cease the subsidies. The money should stay with energy conservation and efficiency.
Just wondering how many of you naysayers have taken steps to conserve at least 20% of your energy at home. Yes conservation is best and passive solar/solar hot water is profitable but we're going to need every trick in the book for sustainable long term energy.
Everyone likes to state the fact that not a single coal plant has been shut down because of wind power. THAT IS BECAUSE WE USE MORE AND MORE KWH YEAR AFTER YEAR. This politically charged BS is ridiculous. Twist the words until you can use them effectively to support your argument. Anyone with half a brain can see through this. Ther are some valid points here, but c'moooonnnn....and by the way, I can see Jiminy's wind turbine from my house, and it ran almost non-stop last summer. Are they measuring the wind from an anemometer that is 40' in the air, or 300' in the air....Again, twist the words to suit your argument.
I can only go by what I know which is the following:
I live within 1600 feet of the Falmouth and Webb turnbines. Since May of 2010, I no longer have deer, coyotes, rabbits, chipmunks or even shrews on my property. Come to think of it, I haven't seen a snake. Skunks, however, yes. Since the lowering of the blade rotation speed, there are far more birds though the hawks aren't around as much.
I kept a sleep journal for a few months when the blade rotation was 4.0 secconds or more per rotation. I was in trouble from sleep deprivation and knew I couldn't function very well from the lack of sleep due to the turbine. This was before the Webb one even went up. I do have a legal disability with Lyme Disease and a compromised immune system, however, I know it was affecting others on my road who had to maintain jobs.
As a result of constant sleep interruption, I was forced to stay for a week with my mother and then one at my son's (both live in different towns) so I could get normal sleep and catch up. The headaches and various other symptoms went away.
This is a situation that had it been thoroughly examined would have shown that placing turbines, which aren't even the best man-made structures for saving our environment from use of fossil fuels, would have a negative impact on humans and animals. This is why Spain and other countries have banned the placement of these mechanical devices at a considerable distance from humans.
In closing, perhaps it isn't too late to rectify this situation and find better options sucn as the one in Germany that my niece sent me seven months ago th following one from Utah:
WINDWISE, you come on here and write a 1000 word article, that half of doesn't even make sense.
First off, have you ever even hiked in the Berkshires? Have you ever been on top of Mt. Greylock or any other open peak and felt no wind. Everytime I hike up Mt Greylock, the wind is whipping like crazy and the same with mountains like near the Hair Pin Turn. You try to go up there and get a day that there is no wind.
Also you say that the winter is when we need less electricity, I find this hard to believe. The summer is a time that calls for a lot of electricity, obviously for AC, but here in the north east, the amount of Air Conditioned buildings is not even half of those in the South. In the winter people are running furnaces, space heaters, are inside more so using appliances. On top of this, the days are shorter in the winter, which means less day light and more times inside with lights on.
Next, is there a need for more electrical generation? Well that's a great question, and the answer is this. Right now, we probably do not need more, but what happens when fossil fuels stores are 100% depleted. Then we are going to need to find ways to produce energy, the only thing left to use will be solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.
As far as focusing on efficiency in lighting and home appliances. We are in the midst of this as we speak, tons of companies and the government have set up ways to save money if you buy energy friendly appliances and etc.. so we are doing what we can at the moment to increase efficiency.
As far as destroying ecosystems and killing birds. If you do any research on numbers of birds that are killed by wind turbines you will find that the common house cat kills more birds than wind turbines. Ecosystems are already in danger from a thing called Global Warming. IF we continue to pollute by using fossil fuel methods of energy production, the ecosystems will have no chance either way.
Lastly to Sharon Eddy, how bout you read this article, all about the people who are crabbing about the Falmouth wind turbines.
The Dr. clearly states in the end of the article that people with negative attitudes toward wind turbines were 13 TIMES more apt to say that the sound was annoying. Meaning that since you are so against the wind turbines you are causing your own problems, the turbine isn't making you sick.
CONCLUSION: By starting these wind farms now, when we are really in need of electricity when other resources are depleted, these turbines will already be paid off and will be creating FREE energy for our area.
Ask the owner or Jiminy Peak, he invested in a wind turbine for his business because he knows in the long run it will be worth it for his business.
People need to realize that their negative attitudes towards wind power and any other form of renewable energy is what creates all of the problems. People don't want to get used to change, and times are changing and you have to embrace it.