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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wind turbine work gathers more steam Paperwork grants easement for access

PRINCETON— The project to get 10 15-megawatt wind turbines up and running in the Berkshires has gone more quickly than putting up two in Princeton, but town officials took one more step forward with the project this week.

Jonathan V. Fitch, general manager of the Princeton Municipal Light Department, said if everything goes according to plan, the two German-manufactured turbines will be delivered in May and will be up and running in June.

All the permits and legal work on the project are done, he said. That process started in 1999, including approval by the Planning Board, Mr. Fitch said.

Selectmen signed the last of the town’s paperwork for the project Tuesday night, which, in part, granted an easement to access the property.

The turbines are replacing eight smaller windmills installed in the 1980s and decommissioned in 2004. Two pads on the site off Westminster Road are awaiting the new equipment, Mr. Fitch said. When questioned by selectmen if there was room at the site for more, Mr. Fitch said it was unlikely. He said he wanted to get through this project before looking at adding more turbines in town.

“This has been a long haul,” he said. “Let’s get this up and running before we look at another.”

Selectman Alan Sentowski said before other wind farms crop up in town, he would like officials to look at possible projects that would benefit the town and not just private homeowners.

The wind farm will consist of two turbines that can generate 1.5 megawatts of energy each.

The $7 million project is a joint effort by the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Co. and the Princeton Municipal Light Department formed to finance and construct the wind farm.