GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

October 13, 2012

The Mayor's Desk: Giant steps for a progressive city

The Mayor's Desk Carolyn Kirk
Gloucester Daily Times

---- — On Monday, Gloucester will welcome the arrival of the first of three wind turbines to our city.

Monday’s turbine is owned and operated by Varian (now Applied Materials). The additional turbines being delivered over the next three weeks begins the final phase of the city’s Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) process that will elevate the city into a leading statewide role in terms of being powered by renewable energy.

This moment has come thanks to a citywide energy strategy developed over a number of years, with input from many in the community and the professional sector. Through a public/private partnership with Equity Industrial Partners, Gloucester taxpayers will finally capitalize on the wind resources of Cape Ann and enjoy financial benefits for decades to come.

Two turbines located at the Gloucester Engineering property owned by Equity Industrial Partners in Blackburn Industrial Park will generate energy credits, which will be used to cover Gloucester’s municipal electricity needs. In the process, the city conservatively anticipates saving $450,000 per year in energy costs. The city also will receive payments from the private operator of the turbines, starting at $40,000 per year with annual increases for the duration of the 25-year agreement. All told, city taxpayers will save a minimum of $11 million.

That’s not all the PPA does. By committing to have 100 percent of the city’s electricity powered through renewable energy tax credits tied to the new wind turbines, taxpayers are assured of energy pricing stability in the marketplace for the next 25 years.

By entering into a public/private partnership, we are also able to move forward with a clean energy project without incurring any capital costs that would impact our borrowing. We also do not incur any maintenance or operating costs associated with the turbines.

With the private sector assuming all upfront costs, our expenses have been limited to staff time and obtaining paid advice from expert lawyers in the field who helped us craft the agreement. The PPA is also a winner for private sector partner Equity Industrial Turbines (EIT) LLC because they can take advantage of federal power production tax credits.

In making this PPA become a reality, the city owes a debt of gratitude to many people, including the Clean Energy Commission (Tom Balf, Linda Brayton, Jill Buchanan, Sam Cleaves, John Moskal, Linda Stout-Sanders, Candace Wheeler), staff members Jim Duggan, Suzanne Egan, Jeff Towne, Gregg Cademartori, and outside professionals who guided us through the process.

Gloucester’s ability to develop a program that reduces energy costs at city-owned facilities promotes clean energy and efficiency. The example for our children we are setting along with the reduced greenhouse gas will provide tangible benefits for this generation and many more to come.

Later this month, MassEnergy will be honoring the city along with our private partner with an energy award at their 30th annual meeting.

We also want everyone to share in the historic moment. Once the blades are offloaded and at the Gloucester Engineering site, we will host a “blade signing” ceremony in early November – a cool event for a progressive city such as ours.

Carolyn Kirk is the mayor of Gloucester.