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Apr 11: Biggest Contract for Scituate Wind

Currents Spring 2011 Newsletter

Mass Energy Consumers Alliance has signed a 10-year contract with Scituate Wind, LLC, for our green power members to support the single turbine project being developed in the South Shore of Massachusetts community.  Through a competitive bid process, the Town of Scituate selected Solaya/Palmer (Scituate Wind, LLC) to build and operate a turbine next to the Town’s wastewater treatment plant on the Driftway in Scituate.  The turbine could be operating later in 2011, spinning on an 80-meter tower and likely produce over 4,000 megawatt hours per year, or enough to power about 600 homes.  By signing a contract for the renewable energy certificates (RECs)  valued at over $1 million, Mass Energy was essential in making the project financial viable.  The RECs certify that contributors to New England Wind Fund and New England GreenStart have earned the bragging rights of consuming green power.  A quarter of the contract value will come from the New England Wind Fund, with the remainder coming from either the New England Wind Fund or New England GreenStart.  Mass Energy manages the two funding sources synergistically in order to bring as much wind power into its portfolio as possible. 

As of today, all systems are go for Scituate Wind.  While the turbine will be developed and owned by a private company, the town selected the developer through a competitive bid process in order to maximize local public benefits.  It also granted the developer a  permit last April.  There are no foreseeable barriers to completing the project.  The developer is moving ahead with closing on its financing and will select an appropriate wind turbine for the site.  As is often the case in wind development, there may be several months between order a turbine and its delivery.  Once the turbine is delivered, construction moves along fairly quickly. 

 “We support wind power because it is the most affordable zero emission source available,” said Larry Chretien, executive director of Mass Energy. “We particularly support projects that benefit their local community.  This is how projects are done in Europe and many parts of the country where turbines are much more prevalent than in New England.  Our members should be proud to have their green power come from Scituate and the other sources in our portfolio. 

“Our members pay a bit more for their electricity voluntarily because they want to speed up the changes we must all make.  As it turns out, by entering into a 10-year deal with this project, we were able to settle on a price that is less than what we have paid in the past for wind power.”

Chretien added that members of Mass Energy include subscribers to two different programs, New England GreenStart and New England Wind Fund.  New England GreenStart is a green power option available to customers of National Grid, including residents and businesses in Scituate.  The average member pays about $12 per month (tax-deductible) in order to have their electricity consumption met by renewable sources such as wind, solar, and low-impact hydro.  Payments for New England GreenStart are seen as an item on the customer’s monthly National Grid bill.  Currently, Mass Energy has about 7,500 New England GreenStart members in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  The New England Wind Fund is offered to consumers anywhere and payments are made by check or credit card. 

Gordon Deane, principal of Palmer Capital, one of the parties involved in Scituate Wind, LLC, said, “We’re pleased to move ahead on this project.  The contract with Mass Energy is important to us.  As a developer, we do not see many companies willing to make a long-term (10-year) commitment to a project like Mass Energy has here.” 

Mark Sylvia, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources said, “The Scituate Wind project is a good one for many reasons.  The Commonwealth made a $400,000 grant to the project because it is a good site, the developers are well-qualified and they have worked with the community, and the town is behind the project.  We’re now very pleased to see that Mass Energy, a nonprofit organization, is stepping up with its membership to help make this a reality.”

Mass Energy will keep you posted as this project unfolds.  If you have any questions, contact Stephan at stephan@massenergy.org  and visit our web site for more information, www.massenergy.org.