June 2009

Boston Local Installs Wind Turbine on Historic Nantucket Farm

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More than 15 electricians from Boston Local 103 recently completed installation of the first 250-kilowatt wind turbine in the United States on Nantucket’s largest and oldest family farm.

Located less than a quarter of a mile from the southern shore of the island off of Cape Cod, the turbine can produce enough electricity to provide 80 percent of Bartlett’s Farm’s energy needs.

The turbine, which has a rotor diameter of more than 100 feet, is unique because of its size. “Most turbines are either small models for residential use or 1-megawatt ones for large commercial facilities,” said Herb Aikens, owner of Lighthouse Electrical Contracting, Inc. “The 250 kilowatt is the just the right fit for medium-size businesses.”

Lighthouse Electrical Contracting has specialized in wind power since it was started in 2002.

The farm’s owner, John Bartlett, was inspired to install the turbine after seeing a presentation by Local 103 member Newell Thomas at a wind energy conference more than two years ago. “His farm had hosted experimental turbines back in the ’70s and was interested in bringing them back to the island,” said Thomas, manager of the renewable energy division for Lighthouse.

The farm, which grows fresh produce for Nantucket residents and tourists, has been in the Bartlett family for nearly two centuries.

Thomas, an electrical engineer, has been an advocate of green energy since the energy crisis of 1974. “Wind power really caught my imagination then, and has held it ever since,” he said.

Bartlett helped finance the turbine through grants from the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust and the U.S. Agriculture Department meant to encourage farms to establish renewable energy sources. The project ended up costing more than $1 million.

Cape Cod and its nearby islands are quickly becoming a center of wind energy in the region. Cape Wind, a planned 130-turbine offshore wind farm to be located in Nantucket Sound, cleared a major hurdle in January when the U.S. Minerals Management Service issued its positive final assessment of the project.

“We are very proud of this installation and congratulate Herb Aikens for the completion of this significant project at the doorstep of Cape Wind,” said Local 103 Business Manager Michael Monahan.

The 250-kilowatt wind turbine at Bartlett’s Farm on Nantucket Island will supply 80 percent of the farm’s energy needs.