Wind project sailing along
Project manager Edward Kaczenski, speaking at a meeting near the mountain's peak, said the backers expect to complete the infrastructure work including the turbine sites next year.
Plans call for the turbines to be installed in early 2010, depending on the lead time, which is expected to be two years, he said. The lead time will be determined today, when the group receives requests for proposals.
"If all goes well, we will be commissioning the project in 2010," said Kaczenski, who is the lead staff engineer for Berkshire Wind Power. When completed, the project is expected to supply electricity to 6,000 homes.
Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative Group, a collaboration of 14 members of the nonprofit Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Co. of Ludlow, purchased the wind project for $4 million on June 12. Part of the 4 1/2-mile access road is located in Lanesborough, but most of the turbine sites are in Hancock.
The former owner, Distributed Generation Systems of Lakewood, Colo., had invested more than $6 million during the 10 years of project development. But the project stalled after a lawsuit by Silverleaf Resorts, which was involved in a nearby development project. The lawsuit has since been settled.
"Most here would agree that the 10-year Berkshire Wind Project experience is not one that is replicable, nor likely to attract new development," said Dwayne S. Berger, manager of the renewable energy and climate control group of the state Division of Energy Resources.
Berger said Gov. Deval L. Patrick's administration is committed to working with shareholders to "vastly improve" the conditions that will bring wind projects to fruition and expects some "important initiatives" to be unveiled in the coming weeks.
State Sen. Michael W. Morrissey, D-Braintree, the chairman of the Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, said the Berkshire Wind Project is "probably the largest single project for wind under active development in the state right now."
He also praised the Patrick administration for making the project a reality.
"We finally have an administration that has an energy policy, which I think goes a long way," Morrissey said. "During the other years there was lip service, but no real policy."
The mountain meeting was held at the third of the 10 turbine sites.
According to Kaczenski, the five most southerly sites have been excavated, while the five northerly sites have been cleared.
The group has received the required permits for all 10 sites. The electrical system for the turbines also needs to be installed.
Kaczenski said the 10 wind turbines will be geometric replicas of the turbine that has been installed at Jiminy Peak Resort on the opposite side of Route 43. Each turbine will have a hub height of 80 meters and a blade diameter of 77 meters.
"The housing at the hub that contains the generator and the gear reductions is the size of a bus," he said.
At a height of 80 meters, Kaczenski said, the average wind level is approximately 8.5 meters per second, which means each turbine will operate at 40 percent capacity for an entire year.
Each turbine will be aligned in the direction of the prevailing winds, which are in a west-northwest direction.
"This is probably as good an inland site (for wind) that you will find in the state of Massachusetts," Kaczenski said.
"This is a new beginning for wind development in Massachusetts," Berger said.
"This project will go a long way, I believe, to allaying the fears that the Berkshire beauty will be diminished by these projects," he added.
To reach Tony Dobrowolski: TDobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com (413) 496-6224
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