Onshore wind energy technology uses wind turbines to generate electricity from wind energy. It is a renewable energy source that is contributing to the Commonwealth’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and diversify its energy sources. Massachusetts is home to a rich resource of onshore wind energy that is mostly located in the coastal areas and western ridgelines in the Commonwealth.
Onshore wind projects are typically categorized into one of three classifications. They are define as:
- Small wind: A wind project that utilizes wind turbines with nameplate power capacities of less than 100 kilowatts (kW).
- Community Wind: A wind project that utilizes one or more wind turbines with power capacity of 100 kW and greater and typically 1) serves a load that is located on the project site, 2) will have a net-metering agreement with the utility company or 3) will serve the load requirements of a host municipal light department.
- Commercial Wind: A wind project that typically serves the ISO New England wholesale electricity market or a municipal light plant system, or has an on-site load that does not qualify for net metering. Commercial Wind projects typically have three or more turbines.
As of October 2017, Massachusetts had over 44 onshore wind energy facilities installed across more than 30 municipalities, representing more than 100MW of capacity. These projects span from the Hoosac Wind Project and Jiminy Peak in the Berskhires to Medford's McGlynn elementary school, and the Joint Airforce Base on Cape Cod. Most of these projects have been developed by communities, schools, businesses, and non-profit organizations seeking ways to provide for their energy needs in less environmentally damaging ways. Larger commercial scale projects, such as the 15MW Berkshire Wind Project in Hancock, have the opportunity to provide abundant renewable electricity to the grid, for all customers to use.
While onshore wind projects offer a host of benefits, siting of these facilities needs to be carefully considered to ensure impacts are avoided and minimized. For further information, please see the available resources below.