Boston’s First Wind Turbine Serves as Example

Solar Design Associates, which is more commonly associated with noteworthy solar energy projects, recently showed they’re not hesitant to tackle wind power projects as well. The firm partnered with Local 103 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to install the 1st commercial-scale wind turbine within the City of Boston.

With tens of thousands of commuters expected to pass by the turbine everyday either on the highway or the commuter rail which runs right by it, the project will serve to highlight wind power technology. The IBEW local received unanimous approval from the City appeals board to install the turbine right adjacent to the I-93 expressway (the main artery coming into the city from the south) adjacent to Dorchester Bay – an inlet of Boston Harbor. The turbine is within site of the Kennedy library and will provide electricity to power the IBEW regional training center. The turbine is a 100 kW unit from Fuhrlaender and stands on a 35-meter tower with a blade diameter of 21 meters. Fuhrlaender’s local representative, Lorax Energy coordinated the sale. All electricians coming up through the IBEW 103 apprenticeship program will now receive training on wind turbine installation and maintenance – as well as solar electricity from the PV system on their roof! ”We see it as the future marketplace,” said Phil Mason, director of the union’s training center, where about 800 electrical apprentices and 200 telecommunications apprentices take classes at any given time. ”We’d like to be involved in its development.” SDA helped Local 103 install a solar electric system on its training facility in November 2002 and helped the union begin investigating wind power about a year later, after representatives from the union’s international headquarters encouraged local unions to learn about wind power. ”We have to make sure our members are proficient in as many technologies as possible,” said Jim Spellane, a spokesman for the IBEW in Washington, D.C. ”And, given the concerns about fossil fuels, we want to be at the forefront of things like solar power and wind power.” The project received cost-share funding support from the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust. As cars whizzed past the construction site, James L. Christo, project manager for the trust, said the project’s high visibility would be offer a major boost for renewable energy in Massachusetts. ”We’ve got tens of thousands of cars a day passing by, and this will be a daily reminder . . . that renewable energy is available to them,” Christo said. SDA President, Steven Strong said he proposed the turbine to the IBEW with there goals in mind: 1) Strengthen the relationship between organized labor and the renewables community, 2) Get wind out there in a highly visible location and, 3) Leverage this to build support for the Cape Wind project. Cape Wind is in the process of gaining construction permission for a 468 MW off-shore wind farm for Horseshoe Shoals in Nantucket Sound off the south shore of Cape Cod. The wind farm — which would be the first offshore wind farm in U.S. waters — has also faced criticism from nearby landowners. “In Massachusetts, we are ashamed that there has been considerable resistance to the Cape Wind proposal from wealthy Massachusetts shore-front property owners — including Senator Kennedy — who would prefer not to have their ocean view compromised by a glimpse of the turbines offshore some 8-12 miles out to sea,” Strong said. Strong said that the IBEW and SDA are hopeful that the Boston wind turbine will provide a highly visible example of wind power working in the community and give a boost to the Cape Wind proposal which we surely need with the issue of Peak Oil upon us and New England being the region most dependent on oil in the entire country.

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