Patrick-Murray Administration Designates Developer of Wind Turbine at MassDOT's Blandford Service Area
Woburn company will install 1.5 megawatt turbine to help "green" the state's transportation system and promote the Massachusetts clean energy economy
Solaya, which responded to a Request for Proposals issued by the former Massachusetts Turnpike Authority last spring, plans to construct a 1.5 megawatt (MW), nearly 400-foot-tall turbine near the center of the 68-acre state-owned site, as well as a kiosk at the Service Area that will provide motorists with information about the turbine and its operation. Producing up to 3,000 megawatt-hours of electricity annually, the turbine could produce sufficient clean energy to power roughly 400 households. Seen from the MassDOT Service Area, it will also be a visible reminder of the Commonwealth's clean energy leadership.
"This is a tremendous opportunity to increase the Commonwealth's share of wind power, while also increasing public awareness about renewable energy," Governor Patrick said. "I am pleased that the Blandford project is getting under way, moving Massachusetts closer to our goal of realizing the promises of a clean energy future."
Expected to break ground later this year, the project is subject to local zoning and must comply with all environmental permitting and other regulatory requirements. Electricity generated by the Blandford turbine will be sold to Western Massachusetts Electric Co. or another retail electricity provider.
"Our mission at MassDOT is to build a customer-centered transportation system that is focused on sustainability and future growth," said MassDOT Secretary Jeff Mullan. "Whether it's this turbine project, solar panels along the highway, or encouraging alternative transportation modes, we are exploring every opportunity to be an environmentally responsible partner."
"Massachusetts is on track for a tenfold increase in wind power during Governor Patrick's current four-year term - from 3.1 megawatts in 2007 to over 30 megawatts by the end of this year," Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Ian Bowles said. "Visible to thousands of Turnpike drivers every day, the Blandford turbine represents an important new chapter in our clean energy success story."
Solaya will pay rent to MassDOT equal to 3.5 percent of annual power sales, which is expected to total approximately $16,600 the first year of operations and increase over time through anticipated long-term power purchase agreements. Terms of the lease will guarantee the Commonwealth a minimum annual rent of $15,000 per year over a term of 20 years.
Working in collaboration with EEA, MassDOT's Highway Division last year began investigating wind power potential at the Blandford Service Area as part of a "Greening the Turnpike" initiative designed to comply with Governor Patrick's "Leading By Example" Executive Order and his broader goal to develop the Commonwealth's clean energy economy.
The University of Massachusetts Renewable Energy Laboratory installed equipment to test wind speeds and other site conditions. Based on 13 months of wind data, the size of the parcel and its proximity to the electrical grid, state officials subsequently determined that the Hampden County location - the highest elevation on the Pike - was suitable for wind power development.
"Being located at the highest point of the Turnpike and its very minimal environmental impact makes this a great location for the turbine," said State Representative William "Smitty" Pignatelli. "I am excited for this project to continue and am proud of the steps that Massachusetts has taken to focus our attention on the importance of renewable energy."
Solaya was selected to develop the site following evaluation of competing proposals by a committee comprising representatives of MassDOT's Real Estate office, EEA, and the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust. The panel chose Solaya based on the company's overall approach to development, permitting and financing, and its experience in wind power development.
Other Solaya projects in Massachusetts include installation of two 1.5 MW turbines for the Princeton Municipal Light Department, a 1.5 MW turbine at the Massachusetts Military Reservation in Bourne, a 600-kilowatt (kW) turbine at Mark Richey Woodworking in Newburyport, and two 600 kW turbines at the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority's Deer Island treatment facility.