For Immediate Release - December 01, 2009

State and Federal Officials Celebrate Groundbreaking of Wind Blade Test Center

Construction begins on DOE-backed facility to assess large-scale wind turbine blades, make Massachusetts a hub for wind power R&D

BOSTON - Tuesday, December 1, 2009 - Federal and state officials today celebrated the groundbreaking of a Wind Technology Testing Center that will become the nation's first facility capable of testing blades up to 90 meters long that are integral to the future development of wind energy.

"The clean energy sector continues to grow in Massachusetts, and this wind technology testing center will be a tremendous boost," said Governor Patrick. "Testing the next generation of wind turbines here will make Massachusetts a hub for the research and development of the fastest-growing energy source in the world."

"This test blade facility will help the United States regain our competitive edge by making sure the best, most efficient wind turbines can be made in America," said US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. "This investment will create good green jobs and grow our economy, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

"This test blade facility will help create new jobs and ensure that our state remains an unparalleled leader in clean energy technology," said US Senator John Kerry.

"I commend Governor Patrick and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center their leadership in bringing this extraordinary facility, and the jobs it will create to our state. Their leadership will enhance our economic recovery and help to make our Commonwealth a key player in the worldwide clean energy movement," said US Senator Paul G. Kirk Jr.

"New England winds have tested the wills of sailors and citizens for centuries Now we will be taking the lead in testing and developing the wind turbines that will help power our nation in the 21st Century. This new clean energy facility will help ensure that the Bay State has a front row seat for the clean energy revolution," said Congressman Edward Markey.

"I am proud to have been a long time supporter of this project which is important for the development of renewable energy here in New England," said Congressman William Delahunt. "This test center is critical if we are to effectively compete with European companies that are developing advanced offshore wind energy technology in deeper water, away from shipping lanes and fishing grounds, using larger turbines and blades."

"As the co-author of the Green Jobs Act, I am pleased that federal funds awarded through ARRA have made today's groundbreaking for the national wind technology testing center possible. I congratulate my friends at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Massachusetts and Governor Patrick on this momentous occasion, and I look forward to the positive impact this investment will have in growing the Commonwealth's green economy and improving our nation's energy security," said Congressman John F. Tierney.

In May, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu awarded Massachusetts a $25 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to support construction of the $40 million facility.

The new center, operated in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, will test commercial-sized wind turbine blades to increase reliability, reduce cost, improve technical advancements and speed deployment of the next generation of wind turbine blades into the marketplace. The Center will be the first commercial large blade test facility in the nation to allow testing of blades longer than 50 meters, which currently can be done in Europe but not in the United States - putting American manufacturers at a disadvantage. The Wind Technology Testing Center will be equipped to assess turbine blades up to 90 meters long - nearly the length of a football field.

Experts anticipate that research and development into longer blades will be a catalyst for the creation of large-scale offshore wind power facilities in the United States. The facility will also spur innovation by attracting companies to design, manufacture, and test their blades in the United States, and will aid in the growth of American companies that are part of the supply chain for wind turbine production - including fiberglass distributors, advanced composite materials manufacturers, and others.

The location of the testing center at the Boston Autoport in Boston Harbor provides an optimal site, featuring proximity to substantial offshore wind resources, truck access, a rail spur and a 1200-foot-long dock for transporting blades from ocean-going vessels.

Massachusetts was competitively selected for the Wind Technology Testing Center in 2007 by DOE, at which time DOE committed $2 million in technology and staff to support, certify and launch the facility. The Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust also committed $13.2 million to the project, including a $7 million grant for design and initial development expenses, a $5 million loan for working capital, and a $1.2 million loan for first year operating expenses. In May 2009, DOE awarded a $25 million grant from ARRA to complete the project financing.

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center is taking the lead for Massachusetts in building and operating the Wind Technology Testing Center, which is expected to be complete by the end of 2010. Created by the Green Jobs Act of 2008, the Clean Energy Center is charged with advancing the Massachusetts green economy through support for research and development, entrepreneurship, and workforce training. In legislation signed by Governor Patrick last week, the Renewable Energy Trust was transferred to the Clean Energy Center, streamlining support for the Commonwealth's green economy by making a single agency responsible for fostering the development and installation of clean energy technologies.