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Lights On: Wind Industry Has Untapped Potential In U.S.

BOSTON (CBS) - The U.S wind industry continues to evolve, with an average annual growth of 25 percent over the last ten years.

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However, using a baseball analogy, SunEdison Executive Vice President Paul Gaynor says we're currently in spring training and that compares with the first inning in Europe.

With the collapse of Cape Wind's 14-year effort to build 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound, a five turbine project three miles southeast of Block Island is on track to be the first.

Jeff Grabowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind in Providence Rhode Island, says he looked closely at Europe's 70 offshore wind farms.

"They started with a few turbines at a time, and we thought, philosophically, that it made a lot of sense," he said.

The blades are already built, and construction in the water about three miles southeast of Block Island is set to begin this summer.

The 30 megawatts of energy will power roughly 18,000 homes.

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Meanwhile, 100 miles northeast of Block Island, another wind first.

The Wind Technology Testing Center in Charlestown is the largest wind turbine testing lab in the country. Stress and fatigue are rated over a six-month period.

The center is one of the only labs capable of doing test-to-failure. Clients are then informed of any design flaws.

While wind and solar power have been receiving the lion's share of attention in the renewable energy category, hydropower is also on the list. Canada wants to sell hydropower to New England, primarily through huge hydro dams operating in Quebec and the Maritimes.

Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton says the proposal is on the Baker administration's table.

"We are actively pursuing possibilties of providing transmission to get some of that hydro electricity," he said.

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Dan Dolan, president of the New England Power Generators Association, is not a fan. He argues that electric customers could end up paying more, arguing the long term contracts under discussion would serve as substantial subsidies to these provincially owned utilities.

"If you need a long-term contract, that says to me that there is something from either a financing or a viability standpoint that simply isn't adding up," he said.

There are several transmission project proposals in the works.

This is Part 4 of Mary Blake's week-long 'Light's On' series on the state of energy in Massachusetts.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Mary Blake reports:



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