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Boston proposes wind turbine that could power 800 homes

By David Abel
Globe Staff / April 22, 2010

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The city is proposing to build a wind turbine on Moon Island in Boston Harbor that could power as many as 800 homes and intends to use $2.8 million in federal grants to boost energy-efficiency programs, city officials said yesterday.

The plans are part of a larger effort by the city to cut greenhouse-gas emissions and better manage the effects of climate change.

In addition, environmental groups today are sending Mayor Thomas M. Menino a list of other recommendations to improve the city’s environment, including a goal of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions by 25 percent in 2020.

“I am committed to moving this ambitious agenda forward, as we work with our residents and businesses to realize the full benefits of a low-carbon city and ensure that our city remains a vibrant one for future generations,’’ Menino said in a statement.

In its report to the mayor, the Boston Climate Action Leadership Committee and the Community Advisory Committee urged the city to start calculating the projected effects of climate change — such as sea-level rise, heat waves, and more intense storms — in the planning and review process for municipal and private projects.

“As a coastal Northeastern city, climate change will have a profound impact on the future of our community,’’ said Mindy Lubber, president of CERES, a Boston-based environmental group, who cochaired one of the committees that produced the report. “While Boston alone cannot solve the climate challenge, this plan sets a clear path for developing a cleaner, greener, and more prosperous 21st century urban model.’’

The report suggests that achieving its goals could produce a net savings of more than $2 billion for the city by 2020, through lower energy bills. It also suggests action could produce thousands of jobs.

In 2007, Menino unveiled a plan that would require city government to cut greenhouse gases to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012 and 80 percent 2050. The plan also said that by 2012, at least 15 percent of the electricity purchased by the city should come from renewable resources.

Menino is scheduled to announce today that the city’s Office of Environmental and Energy Services has awarded $2.8 million in federal stimulus money for energy-efficiency programs, which it says will create 73 jobs. The money will be used to retrofit nearly 3,100 homes and 800 small businesses with energy-efficient technologies.

He also plans to unveil a proposal to develop a 1.65 megawatt wind turbine on Moon Island, a property owned by Boston that is within the municipal boundary of Quincy. The 400-foot-high turbine would be at least one mile from the nearest home in Quincy and would power homes in Boston and Quincy, city officials said.

The turbine, however, would have to be approved by Quincy’s Planning Board. The two cities will host a meeting on May 24 at Kennedy Senior Center in Quincy to present the plan.

“This is a unique proposal and we believe it holds tremendous potential to make Boston and Quincy leaders in clean energy for the entire Commonwealth,’’ said Quincy Mayor Thomas P. Koch in a statement. “We are looking forward to sharing this proposal with the public, but I wish to stress that today’s announcement is just a first step and that both Mayor Menino and I are fully committed to an extensive public process.’’

The city has not yet determined how it will pay for the wind turbine.

In their report, the groups urge the city to increase the efficiency of existing buildings as well its transportation, waste, and energy distribution systems.

The report says the city could meet its goal of cutting emissions by 25 percent in 2020 mainly by expanding access of residents and businesses to energy-efficiency programs that help them cut their utility bills, increasing the supply of electricity from renewable resources, and boosting the fuel efficiency of city vehicles. It also calls on the city to expand recycling.

“The committee has established ambitious goals in carbon reductions, but it has also developed a greenprint for achieving these goals,’’ said James W. Hunt III, chief of the Office of Environmental and Energy Services. “We can get there with existing technologies, and with a local workforce that will not only help save the planet but will leverage economic development and job creation for Bostonians.’’