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March 10, 2008

Peabody signs on for wind power
By Matthew K. Roy Staff writer

PEABODY - The city is the first among 15 Massachusetts communities to officially join a cooperative that will allow Peabody to benefit from wind power.

The city's Municipal Lighting Commission voted unanimously to make Peabody the largest shareholder in the Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative. The cooperative was organized to finance, own and operate the Berkshire Wind Project, a collection of 10, 1.5-megawatt wind turbines to be built on Brodie Mountain in western Massachusetts. The project is expected to be operational by 2010.

"It's kind of exciting to be the first municipality to jump into the project formally," said Judy Meserve of the Peabody Municipal Light Plant.

Peabody will own just under 17 percent of the 15-megawatt project. It will share ownership with the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Co., a public, nonprofit organization, and the communities of Ashburnham, Belmont, Boylston, Groton, Holden, Hull, Ipswich, Marblehead, Paxton, Shrewsbury, Sterling, Templeton, Wakefield and West Boylston.

The light plant will contribute, through a combination of cash and loans, about $595,000 annually, according to General Manager Bill Waters.

"This brings a terrific source of clean, renewable energy to Peabody and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a whole," Frank Peters, chairman of the Peabody Municipal Lighting Commission, said in a press release.

Through an energy-credit system, the wind turbines are expected to supply 1.8 percent of Peabody's annual energy usage while reducing carbon dioxide emissions attributed to the city's energy consumption by 2.5 percent.

Ipswich could be close behind Peabody in joining the cooperative. The selectmen will vote on whether to participate later this month, Utilities Manager Tim Henry said.