FLORIDA, Mass. (WWLP) - The state's largest wind farm is almost complete, and could start powering homes in the next couple weeks. But like many projects of its size, it has its critics.
Touring the Hoosac Wind project in the Berkshire County town of Florida on Monday, Governor Deval Patrick was greeted by protesters who, in a last-ditch effort, are trying to prevent the activation of the giant wind turbines on the mountain site.
Protesters cited health concerns among the reasons for their opposition to the project.
"I'm worried about these keeping me up at night, there's problems with dizziness, nausea, headaches," Michael Fairneny of Florida said.
The $90M project, which spans an area in the towns of Monroe and Florida, is expected to produce power for ten thousand homes and businesses. It is part of a continuing effort to increase the use of renewable energy sources.
Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Richard Sullivan says that a project of this magnitude really can make a dent in the state's need for fuel-burning energy sources.
"When you put it all together, if you can get up to 250 megawatts, that's a big coal plant, oil plant or natural gas plant that doesn't have to go online," Sullivan said.
The turbines at Hoosac Wind may look small from far away, but up close they are massive. To give some perspective, they are taller than the Statue of Liberty. The blades alone are longer than a blue whale.
Governor Patrick says wind farms don't belong everywhere, but, despite the project's critics, he stands behind this one.
"We've made tremendous progress, and as we have the world is becoming our customer, its creating new companies, jobs; one of the fastest growing sectors in the Commonwealth and we need to keep that going," Patrick said.
While some people are still hoping to stop the project, others look forward to seeing the activation of the turbines in their backyard.
"I'm very thrilled to see them and I will be thrilled when they start spinning and producing power," Stanley Brown of Florida said.
Hoosac Wind will be the largest wind farm in Massachusetts until the construction of the controversial Cape Wind project on Nantucket Sound. Hoosac Wind is expected to be up and running by the end of the year.