In 2007, Sylvan received a $33,144 grant through REAP to install two 120-foot 10 kW wind turbines at its facility. The grant covered 25% of the project’s cost, and with additional funding from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, payback on the investment will be achieved quickly.
“The small nature of the turbines makes them less intrusive,” says Jim McBratney, President and General Manager of Sylvan. “But they still generate up to about 70% of the electricity used by the buildings they supply.”
Sylvan Nursery is a great example of how renewable energy technology can realize cost savings, even in an unconventional place. “It was first a cost savings investment for us,” said McBratney. “Secondarily it was an environmental decision, but fundamentally we just hated being beat with a stick because of high energy costs.”
There are other benefits as well, he noted. “The community appreciation is really there. The novelty of the project certainly hasn’t worn off.”
The Sylvan project sparked others when word spread quickly. Within a ten-mile radius of Sylvan, eight similar turbines have been erected.
While McBratney calculates Sylvan’s payback for the project at eight years, he says that’s a conservative estimate. “To legislators thinking about funding this type of project, I say ‘Go for it.’ This is the right thing to do. It spurs on the industry and allows new, better technology to reach the market.”