Wind on the waters

Wind on the waters

October 1, 2006

RESIDENTS OF the seaside town of Hull are rarely shocked when they open their electric bills, thanks to an efficient municipal light company and two land-based wind turbines that supply about 12 percent of the town's electricity needs. With proper attention to wind power, dozens of other towns in Massachusetts could reward residents with similar average monthly electric bills of around $65 --and the satisfaction of reducing both greenhouse gases and reliance on costly foreign fossil fuels.

Officials of the quasi-public Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the state's development agency for renewable energy, are consulting with about 40 communities on ways to develop energy from wind, solar, and other renewable resources. But lengthy predevelopment procedures, drawn-out funding decisions by the state, and misguided lawsuits by town residents impede progress.

Only four wind turbines of any significant size are now operating across the state. But one promising sign is that the candidates for governor are focused on alternative energy. Democrat Deval Patrick, a supporter of the 130-turbine Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound, envisions production facilities for wind turbines in Massachusetts. Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, a Republican, opposes Cape Wind but has called for the state to provide funding for wind turbines to be used on municipal land. The goal now is to turn such talk into action...

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