Wind and Waste in Beantown


Every day, it seems, we hear of another municipality jumping on the anti-carbon bandwagon at the expense of consumers and taxpayers. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s short-lived plan to put windmills on the tops of Gotham buildings and bridges, Austin’s $2.3 billion, 20-year contract for power from a 100-MW wood-waste plant, San Francisco’s drive to become fossil-fuel-free, etc, etc.

The latest installment of the mad dash to go green comes to us from Boston. Mayor Thomas Menino’s installation of a small wind turbine on top of city hall is turning out not to be cost-free, as expected (hat-tip to Planet Gore regular Matt Szekely). Just another example of the expensive energy symbolism I commented on last week.

The Menino administration is turning red over efforts to go green as the bungled installation of a wind turbine on City Hall’s roof is running up a bill for taxpayers — all to create enough electricity to power just 19 lightbulbs.

The turbine — set to be turned on next week — was donated in January by Arizona-based Southwest Windpower.

But what was intended to be a cost-neutral proposition has turned into anything but, with City Hall running up a $13,000 tab getting the wind turbine installed.

The city had trouble securing the turbine to the roof, which is made of concrete reinforced with steel, Hunt said. The turbine also had to be on a hinge so city engineers could safely repair and maintain it.

The Skystream 3.7, 1.9-kilowatt turbine produces enough power to run 19 100-watt lightbulbs, said Michael French, a Southwest Windpower spokesman.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s Environment and Energy chief James Hunt said the windmill project is “definitely worth doing.”

“The energy may be small, but to showcase the potential of renewable energy in the city of Boston is far more significant,” he said.


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