Lynn, Lynn, the city of . . . wind?
With the construction of a 254-foot-high wind turbine that will save the city around $60,000 a year in electrical costs, that’s what some of the people around the Lynnway — where the new turbine stands — are calling the city.
“We’re helping the environment by reducing the carbon footprint,” said Daniel O’Neill, executive director of the Lynn Water & Sewer Commission, who helped champion the purchase and installation of the 660-kilowatt turbine at the commission’s Lynnway coastal site.
The turbine, which will power about 10 percent of the 40–acre sewage treatment plant, cost $1.8 million to purchase. Grants from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the Department of Environmental Protection reduced the price to about $700,000, said O’Neill, who added that the turbine would provide electricity directly to the plant.
Bob Tina, director of the plant’s operations, said the turbine has been tested and should be running by the end of the month. It is the newest large-scale alternative wind structure to be built along the shoreline north of Boston. A similar-sized turbine exists in Chelsea but is not operating, and last year, three other turbines topping 400 feet were built for private companies in Gloucester. In Ipswich, two wind turbines more than 400 feet high operate on town land. Also, in Newburyport, a 600-kilowatt turbine helps power a woodworking company.
The Lynn turbine, which can be seen from Boston and as far north as Gloucester, will provide about 1 million kilowatts a year to the plant, which treats up to 26 million gallons a day of raw sewage from Lynn, Swampscott, Saugus, and Nahant.
Tina said the key to the turbine is its generator, which is attached to the unit’s three blades. The computerized generator turns the unit and blades to capture the wind, which averages about 12 miles per hour by the Lynn coast. After the power is created in the generator, the electricity flows through cables to transformers and is distributed to the rest of the plant. According to Tina, the electricity will be used to power water pumps and to help waste water be cleaned and eventually pumped out to the ocean.
Tina, who has worked on the project for seven years, said there was no opposition to the turbine —– which is away from houses in an industrial area about 100 yards away from the Lynnway. It also stands near 305 acres of waterfront land that’s slated to be redeveloped in the future. Parts of that zoning allow buildings up to 20 stories to be constructed along the coast.
“I think it projects a green image and I don’t think it will preclude or hinder development from occurring,” said James Cowdell, who has followed the construction of the turbine. Cowdell, the executive director of the Economic Development & Industrial Corporation of Lynn, said the turbine and a commuter ferry, which will begin running in the summer to Boston, will help change the image of the long-industrialized waterfront.
Tina said the property only had room for one turbine. Still, he sees it as a model for renewable energy in the region. “The world needs to embrace renewable energy in whatever form. If we continue on the path we’re going on as a country we’re going to run out of fossil fuel,” he said.
Wayne Lozzi, chairman of the of the Lynn Water & Sewer Commission and a city councilor, said that Lynn’s mostly residential neighborhoods prevent the city from allowing another turbine to be built. Still, he’s happy with one turbine that will allow the city to save money and cut down on pollution.
“I like the fact that it saves money and that it is a green project,” said Lozzi. “I feel that we are head of the curve on that.”