Monday, March 28, 2011

Green Light for Green Energy: MWCC's Turbines Activated

With optimal weather conditions and a green light from national Grid, Mount Wachusett Community College actviated its two wind turbines on March 25.

College officials received confirmation from the utility company, following National Grid's review of data collected during a successful witness test on March 18. Vestas technicians activated the twin turbines in the early afternoon, and northwest winds of 22 miles per hour immediately aided in producing energy for the college. During the break-in period, the turbines will run intermittently.

Together, the Vestas V82 turbines will meet 97-percent of the college's electricity consumption, while also generating revenue for the college by returning approximately 30 percent of the power generated back to the grid.

"The wind project caps off a solid decade of renewable energy initiatives that to date have already reduced the college's energy consumption by half at a significant benefit to the environment, as well," MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino said. "With the addition of wind power, we enter a new era of sustainability."

In addition to wind energy, the college's energy initiatives include biomass heating, photovoltaic solar, and solar hot water, as well as a series of conservation measures throughout the 450,000-square-foot campus buildings.

"It's wonderful to see those puppies spinning," instructor and advisor Bob Mayer remarked. "I think it's great!"

A dedication ceremony is planned for April 27.

The wind energy projects at MWCC and at the North Central Correctional Institution, also in Gardner, are a joint collaboration of the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and the Department of Energy Resources to achieve the renewable energy goals of Gov. Deval Patrick's Leading by Example program.

MWCC's $9 million wind project is being funded through a variety of sources, including $3.2 million in U.S. Department of Energy grants secured by Congressman John Olver; $2.1 million from a low interest Clean Renewal Energy Bond (CREB) made available through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act; and $3.7 million from Massachusetts Clean Energy Investment Bonds.

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