Land Based Wind Healthy in New England

July 9, 2012

Boston Globe:

Despite controversy that has slowed the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound, land-based wind farms are expanding rapidly in the region.

One company alone, First Wind Holdings LLC of Boston, has installed enough turbines in the Northeast over the past few years to generate nearly as much power as the long-awaited offshore wind farm. Other companies, too, have developed wind projects in New England states.

Driving this growth are technological advances reducing the cost of wind turbines and increasing their efficiency, making wind power more competitive with traditional power sources — particularly in the Northeast, where electricity costs can run as much as 60 percent above the national average.

Turbine prices have dropped about 30 percent over the past few years, and new turbines are able to generate electricity at lower wind speeds.


That’s not to to say land-based wind projects have not faced opposition — Gaynor said all of his company’s projects have — but it generally has not been as vehement and vociferous as in the Cape Wind controversy. That’s partly because First Wind’s projects tend to be in remote areas visible to few people. They also bring jobs to rural areas that desperately need them.

Take Washington County, Maine, one of the poorest areas in New England. First Wind built two projects totalling more than 80 megawatts in the county, creating about 200 construction jobs that lasted several months and pumping much-needed money into the local economy during the recent recession.

“The [businesses] that were really struggling, whether it was a woodcutter’s or a convenience store — they were all pretty much bolstered by this,” said Harold Clossey, executive director of the Sunrise Economic Council in Washington County.

Jack Parker, president of Reed & Reed Inc., a Woolwich, Maine, construction company, said its revenues have doubled since it started building wind farms for First Wind. The company has constructed four First Wind projects in Maine, as well as the Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative project in Western Massachusetts and other wind farms in New Hampshire and Vermont.

“It’s transformed our company,” Parker said. “Wind accounts for more than half our business.” Reed & Reed also builds bridges, parking garages, and marine facilities.

Wind power is helping the Massachusetts economy, said Richard K. Sullivan Jr., the state’s secretary of of energy and environmental affairs. About 600 wind power companies operate in Massachusetts, employing roughly 6,500 people, according to state data.

Sullivan said Massachusetts’ energy policies were crafted to be “agnostic to offshore [or] onshore” wind farms, in the hope of encouraging both types.

“It certainly brings environmental benefits,” Sullivan said. “But make no mistake, it’s also an economic development strategy.”

4 Responses to “Land Based Wind Healthy in New England”

  1. You’ll never guess who is helping fund the astroturf anti-Cape Wind groups?

    Bill Koch.

    Surprise, surprise…

  2. jpgreenword Says:

    Here in Canada (specifically Nova Scotia) we are still dealing with people objecting to wind turbines because of “health effects”.

    Ever seen a map of wind farms in Denmark? It’s incredible – they are everywhere. So, if there were health impacts associated with wind turbines, we’d know about it because everyone in Denmark would be sick!

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