Marblehead Reporter Logo

State officials praise municipal utilities' Berkshire Wind Project
Mon Sep 15, 2008

Marblehead - The Marblehead Municipal Light Department, as a member of the Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative, is at the forefront of renewable energy development in Massachusetts, according to state officials attending a Sept. 10 reception atop Brodie Mountain, the site of the Cooperative's 15-megawatt wind project.

"You are on the front lines and doing the hard work of implementing the state’s energy policy," Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Tim Murray told members of the Cooperative following the reception.


Murray said the Berkshire Wind Power Project, planned for operation in 2010, exemplifies the state’s initiatives to capture the energy and economic benefits of renewable energy development.

Marblehead Municipal Light Department Manager Robert Jolly said it is gratifying to receive accolades from state officials for participation in the wind project, but the reason for the Light Department's involvement is more fundamental.

"This project represents an opportunity to add a source of clean renewable energy to our overall energy portfolio that will diversify Marblehead's power supply and help to stabilize prices by curbing our reliance on fossil fuels to generate electricity," Jolly said. "It also will reduce Marblehead's carbon footprint, which is important in addressing the issues associated with climate change."

Philip Sweeney, chairman of the Marblehead Municipal Light Commission, along with other members of the Cooperative, several state legislators and a representative of the Division of Energy Resources gathered at the site where one of the project's 10, 1.5-megawatt wind turbines will be installed. With the sky clear, attendees could see the excavated site for another turbine as well as the recently commissioned wind turbine at Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort turning gracefully in the distance.

Dwayne Breger, manager of the DOER's Renewable Energy and Climate Change Group, praised the Cooperative members for recognizing the value of wind energy. Forming the Cooperative and taking outright ownership of the project "has allowed the project to continue financially and provides additional and sustained economic benefits directly to Cooperative members and the people of the Commonwealth," he said.

Sen. Michael Morrissey, D-Braintree, chairman of the Legislature's Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, said the Berkshire Wind Power Project is the largest wind project currently under development in Massachusetts.

"This project represents a significant piece of the state's renewable energy portfolio, and I commend members of the Cooperative for their initiative in purchasing and developing this important resource," Morrissey said.

Other legislators attending included Rep. Lori Ehrlich, D-Marblehead, and Rep. Angelo Puppolo, D-Springfield. Ludlow Selectman Aaron Saunders, chief of staff for Sen. Gale Candaras, D-Ludlow, also attended.

"This event was 'groundbreaking,' literally and figuratively," Ehrlich said. "I'm so proud of this town and the Marblehead Light Department for being on the cutting edge in securing good clean energy for our town for years to come."

State Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian A. Bowles, while unable to attend the reception, also applauded the Cooperative's activities.

"I congratulate the Cooperative and its municipal light company members for bringing the Berkshire Wind Power Project to the next stage and moving Massachusetts toward a clean energy future," Secretary Bowles said. "I look forward to seeing wind turbines up and running on Brodie Mountain in 2010."

Jolly said the Cooperative is in the process of evaluating wind turbine proposals and that the project is on schedule to meet its planned commercial operation date.

In addition to Marblehead, members of the Cooperative are municipal utilities based in the communities of Ashburnham, Boylston, Groton, Holden, Hull, Ipswich, Paxton, Peabody, Shrewsbury, Sterling, Templeton, Wakefield and West Boylston. The Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company, a non-profit, public corporation that provides a variety of services to municipal utilities, also is a member of the Cooperative.

The Marblehead Municipal Light Department began its association with the Berkshire Wind Project in 2002 when it and other municipal utilities formed a group to purchase the entire output of the project. In 2007, the utilities decided to pursue outright ownership of the project and completed the purchase of project assets in June 2008. The current assets include the easements, permits, agreements, engineering documents, developed property and other items that enable the Cooperative to build and operate the project.

"We certainly welcome the recognition and support for the project from officials of the Commonwealth," Jolly said. "Such support bodes well for the successful development and operation of the project."