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Thu January 10, 2013
Wind Turbines Power Gloucester City Buildings
Gloucester residents have relied on the wind to propel their ships for centuries. Now – wind is moving the city forward in a new and innovative way.
The city has long been known as the home of the Gorton’s fisherman and the setting of “The Perfect Storm.” Now Gloucester can also lay claim to being among the most eco-friendly cities in Massachusetts – thanks to a partnership with private equity firm Equity Industrial Partners.
“Before you would see sort of the landscape of the city and the industrial park the end of route 128,” said Equity Industrial Partners’ Rich Kleiman. “Now when you come up the hill you see three rather large wind turbines.”
Two of the turbines erected last month were Kleiman’s brainchild. He floated the idea of partnering with the city after learning land owned by Equity Partners is particularly well suited for generating wind energy.
“This turns out to be one of the windiest land-based sites in all of Massachusetts,” Kleiman said. “So, it’s a fantastic site. It’s on a peninsula sticking out into the ocean. It’s on a high point on that peninsula, so it gets a tremendous amount of wind energy.”
The third turbine in Gloucester provides power exclusively to Varian Semiconductor’s plant – but it paved the way for the city initiative.
“The Varian project was a sort of trailblazer and it really helped establish the zoning and got people understanding how this could work,” Kleiman said.
Gloucester’s 400-foot turbines now generate enough power to cover the electricity needs of all city-owned buildings.
“Any citizen of the city can appreciate the tremendous savings that this has offered the city,” Kleiman said.
Candace Wheeler, chair of Gloucester’s Clean Energy Commission, said the city is expected to save more than $11 million over 25 years. She credits that savings -- and the location of the turbines -- for the overwhelming support from residents.
“Because the site was very carefully chosen and very favorable and had good setbacks from residential properties, we still have not heard complaint about these turbines,” Wheeler said.
Most people we spoke to welcome the economic and environmental advantages – but not everyone loves the change to the landscape.
“I think they’re an eyesore,” said resident Michelle Gossom. “I know they’re needed for energy. But we think they should be put back in the woods further.”
“To me they’re okay,” said another resident, Dick Gaulton. “Better than seeing plumes of smoke coming out of coal burning furnaces.”
“I love them,” said another, Janet Gately. “I do. I think they’re beautiful.”
If you look closely, you can see a symbol of support on the turbines themselves. Before they were built, hundreds of residents attended a blade signing ceremony.
“People came out of the woodwork to kind of express how happy they were with this concept,” Kleiman said. “And it was amazing to see how many people came up and just sort of asked questions, signed the blades and just wanted to know more about it.”
Like them or not, Gloucester residents will have to get used to seeing these structures slicing through the sky for the foreseeable future.
For more on the Gloucester turbines, Visit Wicked Local: Gloucester wind turbines draw observations from citizens