WAMC News
9:09 am
Fri May 6, 2011

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick dedicates Berkshires wind farm

Hancock, MA – Patrick joined wind power supporters, project principals and municipal officials atop the ridgeline of Brodie Mountain in Hancock Thursday afternoon amid blustery conditions to dedicate the Berkshire Wind Power Project, a ten-turbine wind farm that will generate 15 mega-watts of electricity.

Ronald DeCurzio is CEO of the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company.

"It's a good thing that it's windy up here, that's the idea."

The company, along with 14 other consumer-owned municipal utilities, is part of the Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative Corporation, which developed the $68 million project.

While the state's large investor-owned utilities are required by state statute to purchase an annual minimum percentage of their energy from renewable sources, municipal companies, such as the Berkshire Wind Cooperative, are not under the same mandate.

H. Bradford White is president of the Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative Corporation.

"This is a proud showing for public power in the state of Massachusetts, the commitment to the environment from the municipal entities, and the resolve that the light boards of each one of these communities had in sticking with this project."

"We are in the forefront of trying to meet the goals of the administration on clean energy."

Clad in a suit and work boots, Governor Patrick joked about conditions at the site, which is located two miles up a dirt road cut for the project.

"Half of you are poorly dressed for this occasion. And those of you who are poorly dressed, half of you have on the wrong footwear."

Patrick went on to say he was excited for the project because of what he described as the many opportunities its completion signals for the future of environmental stewardship, renewable energy and green jobs in the state.

The project nearly doubles the amount of total renewable wind energy produced in Massachusetts, offsetting the production of nearly 612,000 tons of carbon dioxide.

"6,000 homes will benefit from the power generated here. There is an opportunity here for us to grow a whole new industry, and make the world our customer, and the jobs that come from it."

Patrick's remarks were preceded by those of state Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan, who praised the governor for his focus on clean energy's effect on the economy and called the Berkshire project a step towards his goal of reducing carbon emissions 25 percent by the year 2020.

"Over the first four years of the governor's term we've grown the number of green energy jobs by 65 percent. This project alone employed 50 people, some 20 Massachusetts companies that did work here."

While hailed as a milestone for the state's green energy infrastructure, the project took 13 years to complete. Meredith Cochran owns Summit Farm and is one of the landowners who contributed to the project.

"13 years is a ridiculously long time, and clearly points out that Massachusetts must come to an agreement on wind energy siting reform."

Patrick said he is pushing for a wind project siting reform bill to be passed this year, and that he hopes this project can be an example of how municipal authorities can work together with landowners and developers on wind projects

"We are about respecting local control and local decision making. Where that exists we ought to have siting laws that permit it."

"It shouldn't take 13 years. That adds to costs; it means that we are that much longer in breaking ourselves from our dependency on oil and gas."

A bill that would have established an appointed board with the authority to approve a proposed wind project as long as a local board approves it first died in committee at the end of last year's legislative session.