Daily Item

Peabody joins wind power cooperative

By Jenny Amaral/The Daily Item
Monday, March 17, 2008

PEABODY-The future of Peabody residents and business owners could potentially hold lower energy bills with the Municipal Light Plant's recent purchase of the Berkshire Wind Project.

The Commission voted to join 14 other communities, including Wakefield, Ipswich, and Marblehead, in the Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative. The cooperative was specifically organized for the purpose of financing, owning, and operating the renewable energy endeavor, which consists of 10, 1.5-megawatt wind turbines to be placed on Brodie Mountain in western Massachusetts.

Peabody will be the largest shareholder of the project by owning just under 17 percent. The capital investment will most likely be bonded with resources from all municipalities involved, said Peabody's Municipal Light Plant spokesperson Judy Meserve.

"Once it's paid for, it'll be just part of our operational budget," said Meserve.

Because wind is technically a free, renewable source of energy, the only cost the municipalities will face is general maintenance of the equipment, as the need to purchase fuels would be eliminated.

"This puts us in a good position because we are moving forward with a renewable source of energy," said Meserve. "As we all know right now, not just Massachusetts and Peabody, but all of the U.S., has to move (away from) being totally dependent on fossil fuels for reasons of cost and environmental reasons."

The new turbines are expected to supply 1.8 percent of Peabody's annual energy usage while reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 2.5 percent.

The fact that all permits are already in place has helped move things along at a much faster rate, said Meserve. There's currently been some land clearing, although Meserve said it's still very much in the beginning stages. It is expected to be fully functional by the end of 2010.