Saturday, 2:15 PM
Medford readies wind turbine at site along I-93
By Martin Finucane, Globe Staff
Anyone who commutes north from Boston on Interstate 93 knows that there are a few days every year when winds roar across the road, shake your car, and cause you to grip your steering wheel a little bit tighter.
Medford officials are hoping for a lot of those days in the future.
That's because the city is in the process of commissioning a wind turbine at the John J. McGlynn Sr. Elementary and Middle School. The site is just along the highway and the Mystic River near the Route 16 exit.
The turbine's hub is 131 feet tall and its three blades are 34 feet long. It was made by Northern Power of Vermont. It's expected to generate 170,000 kilowatt hours per year, or about $25,000 worth of electricity. That's about 10 percent of the school's electricity bill, said Patty Barry, director of the city's energy and environment office.
Barry and Mayor Michael J. McGlynn showed the turbine to a reporter today, a day after the official ribbon cutting ceremony.
Barry said the project was just one of a number of environmental initiatives the city has undertaken during the mayor's tenure, including the installation of a solar power system on City Hall, solar lighting at Hormel Stadium, and the use of town vehicles powered by alternative fuels.
One project led to the next, said McGlynn. "The one thing about the environment -- it's addictive ... because the more you do the more you want to do," he said.
One of the key reasons for installing the turbine was to create awareness of alternative energy among the children at the schools, he said.
Maureen McCracken, director of marketing at Northern Power, said the turbine can spin and make electricity in winds as slow as 6 mph. It spins faster and generally makes more energy as the wind picks up. But once the wind hits 56 mph, the turbine shuts off. The turbine has already put some power onto the grid, though it hasnít been cleared for unattended operation. It's expected to be fully operational at the end of next week, she said.
The Globe reported Thursday that Governor Deval Patrick's lofty goals of making the state a leader in energy and environmental policy may be endangered by the stumbling economy, which has produced massive budget deficits.
To reach the state's goal of 2,000 megawatts produced by windpower by 2020, the state would have to increase generating capacity more than 300 times.
But the $644,000 Medford project, which benefited from a number of major grants, has made it under the wire. And McGlynn said he was optimistic the city could see more green initiatives.
"I think you have to be devoted to the cause," he said. "You have to hustle the money in many different directions."