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January 15, 2013

Blackburn turbines fully up and running

Blackburn giants now fully up and running

Do not be confused.

While they are not running constantly, Gloucester’s trio of tickets to the clean energy era — the gigantic tri-blade wind turbines at Blackburn Industrial Park — are now on line.

And as the wind spins them, they are generating electricity, while also saving money for their owners and the city of Gloucester.

The largest of the three, its blades’ apex a full 479 feet above the ground, was put on line Dec. 6 by Varian Semiconductor/Applied Materials, while the smaller twin turbines — a mere 255 feet at the top of the blades’ arc, and owned by Equity Industrial Turbines, a subsidiary of Equity Industrial Partners, the landlord of Gloucester Engineering — went on line Dec. 31.

Rick Johnson, director of facilities for Varian, a bureau unit of Applied Materials Silicons Systems Group, said the turbine was projected to produce 8.5 million kilowatt hours for the maker of capital equipment used in the manufacturing of chips, and translates into $1 million in annual net savings. Varian uses enormous amounts of power in its manufacturing process.

The city’s partnership with Gloucester Engineering, meanwhile, is projected to save the city $450,000 a year and also provide “a substantial savings” in net electricity charges to Gloucester Engineering, which makes equipment that is used to extrude plastics to make bags and films. Rich Kleiman, Gloucester Engineering’s wind power consultant, said the precise information on the projected benefits to the company was private.

While all of the turbines are up and running, they do not operate in very low or high winds.

Johnson said when winds were at 7 miles per hour or less, the Varian turbine will not operate for economic reasons; when the wind speed is 56 miles an hour or greater, the turbine will shutdown for safety reasons.

Kleiman said the Gloucester Engineering turbines’ cut-out speeds at the low and high ends were about the same.

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