Massachusetts Manufacturer Shifts to Wind Power
A new landmark in the historic city of Newburyport marks the skyline and it isn't a new building, it's a wind turbine. In fact, it's the first wind turbine in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to power a manufacturing operation.
Mark Richey Woodworking, located in Newburyport, Massachusetts is the country`s leading source of high-end architectural millwork for corporate, institutional, retail, restaurant, hospitality and residential clients. Mark Richey Woodworking employs a diverse workforce of more than 90 people at a state-of-the-art facility. It follows environmentally sensitive manufacturing methods and continuously invests in new technologies to reduce the energy footprint of its facility.
Two years ago, Mark Richey Woodworking sought to explore wind technology in order to minimize existing energy costs and its impact on the environment. They turned to Meridian Associates to assess the feasibility of installing a wind turbine on site and to manage the entire project to its conclusion. Meridian Associates is a multi-disciplinary engineering firm offering consulting services in renewable energy and sustainability to corporate, commercial, industrial, institutional and public sector clients. Meridian Associates played a key role in managing the entire project from the initial planning stages through to design and construction.
Meridian Associates and its consulting team conducted extensive research, completed the permitting process, secured grant funding and received approval from the city of Newburyport. Detailed efforts included a wind resource assessment to quantify wind velocity, structural analysis, review of potential fatal flaws, interconnection to grid analysis, and an environmental and wildlife assessment to ensure the local wetlands and animal species would not be adversely impacted. In addition, studies were performed on localized effects of shadows cast by sunlight on the turbine blades, called "Flicker," acoustics, a balloon height test and photo simulation of the turbine. Meridian Associates worked to secure permits with the FAA and City of Newburyport, approval from the conservation and zoning committees and completed the entire application process with the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC).
After Meridian secured $474,340 in grant funding from the MTC, the City of Newburyport granted its first permit under the newly adopted ordinance governing wind turbines. Construction of the wind turbine began in September 2008 and was completed in January 2009. "We are pleased to have played a central role in the Mark Richey Woodworking project, establishing wind power as a viable source of clean energy for the North Shore of Massachusetts," said Don Bowen, principal of Meridian Associates.
"Installing our own wind turbine allows us to demonstrate our commitment to the environment and help develop renewable energy businesses in our community," stated Mark Richey, president of Mark Richey Woodworking. "This investment also lowers our costs, allowing us to stay competitive and support the local economy by continuing to do business in Massachusetts. We employ 90 people and are growing. The Commonwealth benefits from the stability of a company that has literally put a stake in the ground and is here to stay."
Wind power uses the force of the wind to drive a turbine that produces electricity. The wind turbine is connected to the electricity grid feeding excess energy back to the electric company. Wind power provides a clean source of energy that reduces greenhouse gas emissions generated by traditional energy power plants, protects natural areas from mining and oil drilling, reduces water pollution and does not disturb farming or forestry operations.
The turbine stands 292 feet from base to blade tip. Workers prepared the area for the first 50-foot piece of the tower, laying grout to level the foundation (engineered to a depth of 80 feet and secured to bedrock) and preparing the 120 bolts and shims for installation, before the 300 ton crane moved the 62,000 pound piece into place. The second and third tower pieces each weighed about 30,000 pounds and were approximately 80 feet tall.
The turbine generates up to 600 Kilowatts of energy, producing 1.5 Gigawatt hours of power annually, generating 75% of the energy output for a 130, 000 square foot industrial facility. In its first 60 working days, it produced 192 Megawatt hours, enough to power 130 homes for a year. The return on investment is estimated at eight years.
The unit is manufactured by Elecon Engineering, an India-based company and supplier of mid-range wind turbine equipment. Components are sourced from dependable global companies that specialize in generators, gearboxes, hydraulics, brakes, and control panels. It was global scarcity of medium-to-large scale wind turbines that resulted in serious consideration of Elecon's 600 kW machine.
In fact, Elecon welcomed Mark Richey, President of Mark Richey Woodworking and Don Bowen, Principal, Meridian Associates to visit their gearbox and production facility in Kandla, India. "This trip enabled us to gain important insight into general business practices in India, as well as the specific practices of Elecon Engineering," remarked Don Bowen. Asked about his motivation to use clean technology, Mark Richey says, "As a longtime mountain climber, world traveler and explorer, I have seen the effects of global warming on the world first-hand. I'm inspired to try to counter those effects through better conservation and green technology, plus renewable energy. I also see it as an opportunity to reduce costs while being a better steward of the environment."
Author's Bio: Rob Howe is the President of Sustainnovation Consulting, a division of Meridian Associates, and assists businesses in adopting sustainable practices that reduce costs, reduce environmental impacts and improve brand value. www.meridianassoc.com