by Will Gottlieb
Coastal Journal staff
WOOLWICH — The Green Economy has arrived: Woolwich-based contractor Reed and Reed has won a competitive bid to build the first commercial-scale wind power project in Massachusetts. The company will build the 10-turbine wind farm in western Massachusetts, in the town of Hancock, for a cost of $10 million.
Work on the project is scheduled to begin later this summer, and should be completed sometime next summer. The new project will be owned and operated by the Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative Corp., and will produce 15 megawatts of clean energy.
The Hancock project represents Reed and Reed's seventh wind power project in New England, at least on paper. To date, Reed and Reed has broken ground on four wind power installations in Maine, including Mars Hill Wind Power in Mars Hill, Stetson Mountain Wind Power in Danforth, Beaver Ridge Wind Power in Freedom, and Kibby Mountain Wind Power, which is currently under way in Kibby Township. A fifth project, a 34-turbine, 51-megawatt wind farm, is currently under review in Oakfield, Maine. The company has also completed a commercial wind farm in Lempster, New Hampshire.
All of those projects have been undertaken in a relatively short time. The company completed the Mars Hill project in 2007; the Stetson, Lempster and Beaver Ridge projects were completed in 2008. The Kibby project, which is a much larger, 132-megawatt wind farm that incorporates 44 Vesta wind turbines, is scheduled to be completed in 2010.
It takes a large, well-trained staff to build that many wind farms in such a short time, which is good news for job seekers here and elsewhere in New England. A glance at the Reed and Reed web site will tell you that the company is hiring, and that the positions they’re hiring for represent a broad range of skills, education and abilities.
“Any one of these projects adds jobs, not only for us, but for our subcontractors,” said Art Cavanagh, the senior project director at Reed and Reed who will supervise the Massachusetts project. “I'd say at this point it probably maintains our work load and keeps us busy. But there are subcontractors it adds jobs for, or in this economy, is probably maintaining their work force.”
A lot of varied, interesting and well-paying work is coming Reed and Reed’s way, given the state of the infrastructure in New England, and the company’s extensive portfolio of municipal construction projects, including bridges, buildings, environmental and marine projects. But the company’s wind power projects will probably frame the public’s perception of Reed and Reed for the foreseeable future.
“We as a company recognized that renewable energy work would be a good fit for us,” said Cavanagh, “with our heavy equipment and bridge building expertise. We ‘jumped in’ in 2006 with Mars Hill, and it's been a really good work going forward from that point. And our crews really like that type of work. It gives everybody a sense of satisfaction.”
And the good news will not stop with the Hancock project.
“There are a lot of other projects,” said Cavanagh, “from the feedback that we get. This is going to be the first commercial wind farm in Massachusetts, but in talking to our clients, they have plans for more of this type of work.”