Thursday, August 16

HANCOCK — Wind energy is alive and spinning in Berkshire County after yesterday's official turn-on of Zephyr, the 1.5-megawatt, $4 million wind turbine near the summit of Jiminy Peak. With more than 600 people gathered at the base of the structure, Jiminy Peak President and CEO Brian Fairbank acknowledged the major players in its realization: Sustainable Energy Developments, the firm that brought the turbine parts up the mountain and erected it; the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and Legacy Banks, for arranging the financing; the resort staff who contributed significant efforts to make it all work; and GE Energy, which built the turbine.

Attendees reached the turbine site by riding a chairlift to the summit and walking more than 1,000 yards to the turbine base.

Fairbank said even though the 236 ton, 386-foot-high turbine will generate enough energy to reduce 7.11 million pounds of greenhouse gases a year, and save the equivalent of 383,000 gallons of diesel fuel annually, it is a symbol for him of something more essential to America.

"It really represents freedom and determination to me," Fairbank said. "The freedom to advocate change and think of new initiatives, and the determination to achieve independence from fossil fuels, carbon emissions and the need for foreign oil."

He implored the crowd to use compact fluorescent light bulbs, programmable thermostats and any other means available to conserve energy.

"Find alternatives to make a difference," he added. "Together, we can make a better tomorrow."

With that he signaled James P. Van Dyke, the newly appointed vice president of environmental sustainability at Jiminy Peak, to push "the button."

With the wind speed at a little over 6 mph, the blades started turning slowly. There was a little noise from the nacelle — the blade anchor — when the turbine started up, and once the blades were moving, the noise dissipated. The audience applauded what Fairbank said he hopes is just the first wind turbine in Berkshire County.

After the ceremony, more than 600 people walked down the mountain, with many heading over to the Alpine Slide to ride down to the base, and others strolling the rest of the way.

The day began with a group of about 200 gathering inside J.J.'s Lodge for an renewable energy educational summit on the three-year wind turbine project and its impact on the wind energy movement.

The summit was moderated by Michael Berry, president of the National Ski Areas Association and a former employee of Jiminy Peak.

Opening remarks were given by recent Mount Greylock Regional High School graduate Rachel Payne, who has been advocating conservation and renewable energy locally and across New England since her graduation.

Her message was an inspiring call to action, noting that the Zephyr project "was an act of incredible bravery to take a stand against the monstrous threat facing our planet."

Fairbank noted that the combination of energy conservation at the resort and the energy generated by the turbine will result in a 49.4 percent reduction in the use of energy generated elsewhere, with a significant amount of energy flowing back into the grid during times of low usage.

To reach Scott Stafford:, (413) 496-6240.