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Going Green With Wind Power

More companies and organizations are finding that wind power makes sense for their energy needs, from both an environmental and a financial perspective.

Apr/May 09
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Tom Michelman, a principal with Boreal Renewable Energy Development in Arlington, Massachusetts, says there are a number of benefits to on-site power generation through wind power and other energy sources. "The energy you produce has a retail value that can be used to offset and stabilize your energy costs. It helps you save and hedge against future energy prices and you can sell your excess capacity," he says. Depending on the dependability of the wind resource, current electric rates, load size, and turbine size, Michelman estimates  that installing a wind turbine can cut a company's energy costs by 10 to 40 percent.

Varian Semiconductor in Gloucester, Massachusetts, has been working with Boreal Renewable to analyze wind power as a way to cut its energy costs. "We operate 24/7 and are a high energy user. We look at wind power as a way to operate more efficiently," says Richard Johnson, Varian's director of facilities. "Our due diligence includes performing feasibility studies and flying to Germany to inspect wind turbines. The new incentives for wind power in the [federal economic] stimulus package cuts our return on investment by two years. As a result, consideration of installing a wind turbine is back on the table. Our tax attorneys are running the final numbers now."

In Hancock, Massachusetts, consulting firm EOS Ventures got its start in the wind power business by facilitating the only privately owned megawatt class turbine in the country for onsite energy usage at its Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort. "Our family has been in the ski business for decades and has a great sensitivity to the environment. We look for ways to conserve energy and cut our operating costs," says Tyler Fairbank, CEO of EOS Ventures. "We purchased 10 million kilowatt hours off the grid per year, constituting 10 percent of our overall expenses. It makes good business sense to find better ways to generate power. Forty percent of the wind power we generate is used on the property and we sell back 60 percent to the grid."

EOS Ventures worked with Fox Islands Wind LLC to provide sustainable energy for the 1,600 full-time residents and a summer population of 3,500 for two islands in Maine's Penobscot Bay. "We anticipate commissioning the wind power project in October with three GE 1.5-megawatt wind turbines," says George Baker, CEO of Fox Islands Wind, which is owned by the electric co-op's rate payers. "The project is sized to provide all of the power the islands will use over the course of a year and reduce overall electric rates by 10 to 20 percent. Our goal is to become economically self-sufficient. All of the benefits of the project flow back to our community."   

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