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Area wind grants OK'd; Bay Path gets money for study.

Byline: Brian Lee

Thanks to a grant, an engineering study is about to be started for a long-talked-about wind turbine project for Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School.

Meanwhile, another Charlton wind energy site will get money for engineering costs, and several other wind energy proposals in the region will be studied.

Twenty wind energy projects were recently approved by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center's board of directors, unleashing $2.5 million in grants under the Commonwealth Wind Community-Scale Wind initiative.

Bay Path will get $399,000 for engineering costs for a 900 kilowatt per hour wind turbine that is expected to yield nearly 87 percent of the school's electricity costs.

The school pays about $250,000 for electricity, not including heat costs from an underground 30,000-gallon propane tank that counts toward energy costs, said David P. Papagni, school superintendent-director.

There's rarely a day flags aren't flying at Bay Path, and the school is at nearly the same elevation as Worcester Regional Airport, he said.

It was one of six projects in Central Massachusetts to move forward.

Also in Charlton, at the more than 400-acre Masonic Health System of Massachusetts campus, a $266,000 grant will pay for engineering and building a 1.5-megawatt wind turbine. The site is projected to satisfy 40 percent of the campus's electricity demand, officials with the Clean Energy Center said.

Grants for four other Central Massachusetts communities will help pay for feasibility studies:

Auburn received $85,000 to study a 900-kilowatt wind turbine at the town-owned property at Granger Cliffs, between Prospect and South Oxford streets. The study will analyze the viability of building the project, costs, interconnection and permitting.

Gardner was given $50,420 to study a 600-kilowatt to 1.5-megawatt wind turbine at Summit Industrial Park. It is part of the city's effort to become a Massachusetts Green Community and reduce municipal energy costs. The study will use existing wind data from the nearby North Central Correction Institute.

The School Committee for the Spencer-East Brookfield Regional School District received $75,000 to evaluate a 600-kilowatt project at David Prouty High School in Spencer.

Northboro got $85,000 to study a 900-kilowatt or larger wind turbine. The study will explore installation of a turbine that will serve municipal loads and offset electrical utility expenses. Mount Pisgah, Davidian Brothers Farm and Tougas Farm are being evaluated as sites.

At Bay Path, school officials will soon meet with Sustainable Energy Developments, of Ontario, N.Y., for the engineering work. The firm also did the $80,000 feasibility study for the school's wind turbine.

Mr. Papagni said the school would like to pay for the wind turbine with a $3 million grant it applied for from the Department of Energy Resources. He said he learned yesterday the federal agency won't make a decision for two months. That grant isn't specific to wind turbines, but is American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money for shovel-ready projects.

Bay Path is also doing an energy audit through a smaller grant it recently received, with the hope that, through working with National Grid and Energy Engineering and Design, it will further reduce the school's energy costs. If projections are met and the wind turbine is built it could yield a better than 87 percent reduction in the school's dependence on outside sources for electricity, Mr. Papagni said.

Meanwhile, there has been a lot of interest in the 600-kilowatt-per-hour wind turbine at Holy Name Central Catholic Junior/Senior High School in Worcester, Headmaster Edward Reynolds said.

The $1.75 million, 262-foot wind turbine started production at Holy Name in October 2008.

Mr. Reynolds said he anticipates an energy bill of just $3,000 for December, which represents the turbine running at about 95 percent of production.

During December, Holy Name produced 125,734 kilowatt hours and used 149,658 kilowatt hours, he said.

In comparison, in December 2007, a typical month without the wind turbine, its electrical bill was about $20,000. The school, which has electric heat, used almost 150,000 kilowatt hours, the headmaster said.

In December 2008, with the turbine operating at about 75 percent of availability, the bill was about $14,000 (it produced 98,000 kilowatt hours).

Since the wind turbine started production Holy Name has produced about 800,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, Mr. Edwards said.

ART: PHOTO

CUTLINE: The 262-foot wind turbine looms over Holy Name Central Catholic Junior/Senior High School.

PHOTOG: T&G File Photo/CHRISTINE PETERSON
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jan 25, 2010
Words:746
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