Thursday, March 29, 2012

Turbines at 1 Year Anniversary Producing 100% of MWCC's Electricity

In the year since Mount Wachusett Community College added wind energy to its renewable portfolio, the two 1.65 MW turbines are producing 100 percent of the college’s electricity while also returning energy back to the grid.

The Vestas V82 turbines, activated on March 25, 2011, generated in excess of 5 million kilowatt hours of electricity two days before the anniversary date, slightly exceeding the 4.97 million kWh annual production anticipated prior to construction and taking into account the first month of intermittent operation during a break-in period. Combined with existing renewable technologies, the turbines have enabled the college to generate nearly all of its energy on site and to achieve the distinction of near carbon neutrality for campus operations.

"The wind energy project is the crowning achievement in our portfolio of green energy projects. Combined, these renewable technologies provide an invaluable learning tool for the general public as well as students pursuing green careers in our Natural Resources and Energy Management programs," said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. "The turbines have become a source of pride and a symbol of progress for the college and for the local community."

The wind energy project, a collaboration between the college and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs, the Executive Office of Administration & Finance, the Division of Capital Asset Management, and the Department of Energy Resources, is an integral component in the Massachusetts Leading by Example - Clean Energy and Efficient Buildings executive order to achieve statewide goals.

"Community projects like this one not only create jobs and local sources of energy but stabilize energy costs, which traditionally have relied on volatile fossil fuel markets," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. "We're a proud partner in this project because it sets an example of clean energy leadership for the students, residents and businesses of this community.

During an April 2011 ceremony, the college dedicated the turbines in honor of Congressman John Olver, for his support for funding through the U.S. Department of Energy, and Edward R. Terceiro Jr., MWCC executive vice president emeritus and resident engineer, for his leadership on the project and other campus energy initiatives, and to both for their renewable energy vision.

A charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment, MWCC was recognized with environmental awards in 2011 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Second Nature/ACUPCC and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, for its success in renewable energy and conservation.

Built in the early 1970s as an all-electric facility, the Gardner campus has been transformed over the past decade. In addition to wind energy, the college's energy initiatives include biomass heating, photovoltaic solar, solar hot water, and extensive energy conservation measures. Since 2002, energy consumption at the 450,000 square foot campus has dropped from 9 million kWh to 5 million kWh, saving more than $4.5 million in utility costs while simultaneously benefitting the environment.

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