Varian’s wind project gets local nod

November 6, 2007 – After nearly three years of work and lobbying, Varian Semiconductor Equipment Associates Inc. says it has received approval from the Gloucester (MA) City Council to build two wind turbines, in a bid to dent one of its larger operating costs: the electric bill.

The two 2.5MW turbines are expected to generate 14M kwH/year of power, nearly two-thirds (65%) of the company’s annual use of electricity. About 30% of that amount will be sold back to the local power company. Site work is expected to start in 2008.

Besides saving money, the plan also has environmental benefits, each year eliminating about 7600 tons of CO2, 12 tons of SO2, and 4 tons of N2O. Furthermore, the company says it will share lessons learned in navigating the wind project development process — science, economics, and policies — with the local school department, resulting in educational programs and use of the turbines as an on-site laboratory.

“We believe the residents of Gloucester will ultimately be very pleased with the turbines because they will put the city at the forefront of renewable energy generation in Massachusetts, improve the regional environment, and help maintain the economic health of Gloucester’s largest employer,” said Rick Johnson, director of facilities at Varian Semiconductor, in a statement.

Varian initiated the wind turbine plan in early 2005, saying the twin $2.0-$2.5M turbines would save an estimated $500K annually. Ironically, a proposed larger-scale wind turbine project offshore at nearby Cape Cod involving a bank of huge wind turbines, well within sight of the popular beach communities, has generated fierce controversy, and weeks ago was rejected by a regional planning commission.


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