Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Wind Power Alternative from NStar

For a price (about $7.50 to $15.00 a month) customers of the Boston utility NStar can buy electricity from a wind farm in upstate New York. The program still needs approval from state utility officials in Massachusetts, but the prospects look encouraging.

As this article in the Boston Globe indicates, the program has some unique advantages over earlier programs of a similar nature.

The two major differences with NStar's plan is that it will have the direct marketing power of the $3 billion utility behind it, and customers will be paying for electricity from the 195-turbine Maple Ridge wind project near Camp Drum in upstate New York and from a 44-tower wind project now under development at Kibby Mountain in Maine expected to open by 2009.

"We have something real and tangible, and we can take you up there and show you the source of where your power is coming from,'' NStar chief executive Thomas J. May said. NStar is signing 10-year contracts to buy a total of 30 megawatts of power from each installation, in total equal to the electric demand of about 45,000 average homes or small businesses. That's about 2 percent of the utility's average total demand, and May said, "We hope the program is oversubscribed and we have to go back and buy more.''

Alan Nogee of the Union of Concerned Scientists in Cambridge, one of several environmental groups that advised NStar on developing the plan, said, "We are very excited by NStar's long-term commitment to wind energy and their green power program. They're helping customers say yes to choosing a responsible energy future and a more stable climate.''

The viability of shaping our energy future around wind and solar becomes more clear with each program like this that is launched.