HANCOCK — The Berkshire Wind project on Brodie Mountain has grown.
The 10-turbine wind farm, which started generating electricity in 2011, has been expanded by two more turbines, and is now a 12-turbine farm with a generating capacity of 19.6 megawatts, up from 15 megawatts.
"Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company and its municipal light plant members have long been leaders in integrating renewable technologies into their power portfolios, dating back to the construction of the Princeton wind project in 1984," said MMWEC CEO Ronald C. DeCurzio. "The expansion of the Berkshire Wind Power Project further demonstrates the commitment of Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company and its municipal light plants to helping the state and the region meet carbon emissions reduction goals now and in the future."
Construction on Phase II of the project in the towns of Hancock and Lanesborough began in January. The expansion included construction of two, 2.3-megawatt turbines, in addition to 10 of the 1.5-megawatt turbines. The project was financed with issuance of an $11,780,000 package of green bonds issued by a commercial bank. Green bonds are used to finance environmentally friendly projects.
Kate Roy, spokesperson for the MMWEC, said there are no plans to further expand the Berkshire Wind project.
The wind farm was built and is owned by the Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative Corp., a cooperative inclusive of the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Co. (which is a joint action agency for municipal utilities) and 14 of its member municipal light plants participating in the first phase of the project. They include utilities based in the communities of Ashburnham, Boylston, Groton, Holden, Hull, Ipswich, Marblehead, Paxton, Peabody, Shrewsbury, Sterling, Templeton, Wakefield and West Boylston.
Participants in this second phase of the project include the municipal utilities in Boylston, Chicopee, Hull, Ipswich, Marblehead, Peabody, Russell, Sterling, Wakefield and West Boylston.
When Berkshire Wind began operation in 2011, it was the state's largest inland commercial wind farm and the first of its kind. Today, it's the state's second-largest wind farm, operating successfully at one of the windiest sites in Massachusetts with an average capacity factor of nearly 40 percent.
On the new turbines, improvements in blade technology allow them to begin operating and generating power at lower wind speeds, further increasing potential output for the wind farm, according to a company statement.
The new turbines were built on sites cleared during the initial construction in 2011. The two new turbines are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 7,400 tons of carbon dioxide per year by displacing natural gas generation, the predominant fuel source in New England.
The MMWEC signed a contract in 2002 with Berkshire Wind's original developer to buy the project's output. In 2008, with much of the permitting completed but no turbines erected, the developer sold the project assets to the BWPCC, which built the project and began operations in 2011.
Scott Stafford can be reached at email@example.com or 413-629-4517.