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Historic Wind Development in New England: More New England Wind Farms

Since Crotched Mountain, six additional wind farms have been installed to date in New England. The performance of New England wind farms has generally mirrored the performance of wind farms elsewhere, i.e., a slow start followed by rapid improvement.

Original wind farm on Equinox Mountain, circa 1982. Photo courtesy of Endless Energy Corporation. Click on the image to view a larger version.

Original wind farm on Equinox Mountain, circa 1982.

Equinox Mountain, VT

The four WTG turbines installed in 1981 and 1982 at Equinox Mountain, VT, comprised one of the first wind farm installations in the United States. These early turbines, which suffered mechanical issues (including blade throws), were subsequently removed, but Equinox Mountain continued to receive attention as a wind power site (see below).

Nantucket, MA

New England's third wind farm, consisting of eight 25- to 40-kW Enertech turbines, was installed on Nantucket Island, MA, in 1982 and 1983. It performed moderately well for a few years, often producing 1% of the island's power, but it was shut down by 1986 due to poor maintenance.

Princeton, MA

Princeton Wind Farm. Photo courtesy Princeton Municipal Light Department.

Princeton Wind Farm.

A fourth wind farm, also consisting of eight 40-kW Enertech turbines, was installed in Princeton, MA, in 1984. Like other wind farms using Enertech turbines, it produced some meaningful power before being decommissioned in 2006. One of the turbines will be exhibited at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan as an example of first-generation wind energy technology. Unlike the other historic sites, however, the Princeton wind project is being repowered by the local municipal electric utility.

Tug Mountain, NH

New England's fifth wind farm, on Tug Mountain in Canaan, NH, was installed in 1984 and went on line in 1985. It consisted of ten 60-kW Danish wind turbines manufactured by Micon. Like others installed in the mid-1980s, this 600-kW wind farm performed better than its predecessors. In 1987, it produced 541,200 kWh for a capacity factor of 10.3%. ("Capacity factor" is the actual energy output divided by the theoretical maximum output if the machine operated at peak capacity all the time.) This performance is comparable to California wind farms installed during the same period, but it is well below the performance of newer wind farms. Tug Mountain's lackluster performance was reportedly due to frequent problems with the interconnection to the local utility and wind speeds considered low for a commercial wind farm. The Canaan turbines were relocated to California in 1988, after the owner concluded that it was not cost-effective to operate such a small wind farm so far from its service facilities.

Second wind farm on Equinox Mountain, 1990.  Two 100-kW U.S. Windpower turbines operated by Green Mountain Power to test feasibility of cold-climate generation. Photo courtesy of Endless Energy Corporation. Click on the image to view a larger version.

Second wind farm on Equinox Mountain, 1990. Two 100-kW U.S. Windpower turbines operated by Green Mountain Power to test feasibility of cold-climate generation.

Equinox II, VT

New England's sixth wind farm, consisting of two 100-kW U.S. Windpower turbines, was installed on Equinox Mountain on the site of the previous WTG wind farm. These machines, which went on line in January 1990, operated with some success before they were removed in November 1994. A press release issued by owner Green Mountain Power Company after about a year of operation explained that the project on Equinox had "provided GMP with the opportunity to demonstrate that modern wind turbines could operate efficiently in harsh winter climates, opening the door for providing reliable, economic and clean wind-generated electric power in New England and other cold climate areas." GMP's CEO said, "In Vermont, wind power has a future, and we believe it could become an important part of our energy mix." Endless Energy Corporation, which plans to redevelop the Equinox Mountain site with modern wind turbines, reports that these turbines were more costly to operate and maintain than today's modern turbines and had a reputation for poor performance, even in the much more benign environment of Altamont Pass in California. (U.S. Windpower later became Kenetech Corporation, which filed for bankruptcy in 1996.)

Mt. Tom, MA

When installed in 1994, the ESI-80 turbine was the largest operating wind turbine in New England. It is still used as a research and educational turbine at the University of Massachusetts' Renewable Energy Research Laboratory.

History content contributors include Harley Lee of Endless Energy, James Manwell of the University of Massachusetts Renewable Energy Resource Laboratory, and Tom Gray of American Wind Energy Association. Edited by Bob Grace, Sustainable Energy Advantage, LLC.

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