A new wind turbine at the Philips Lightolier plant in Fall River officially opened on Jan. 31 amidst much fanfare. Standing 415-feet tall, the 2 megawatt generator is the largest structure in the city and one of the largest turbines in the state. It is larger than the 336-foot, 1.5 MW turbine at Portsmouth High School and more than twice as large as the two, 150-foot turbines located in Warwick, each one rated at 100-kilowatts.
The Lightolier turbine serves as an example of how private and public entities can come together to create a partnership benefiting both parties. For Lightolier – a manufacturer of high-performance fluorescent lighting and lighting systems – the turbine is expected to generate up to 70 percent of the 326,000-square-foot facility’s electrical needs for their 415 employees.
As part of the growing movement toward green energy and independence on foreign oil, it was constructed with the help of local contractors and unions, providing work for several hundred people. It was built under the guidance of local contractors J.L. Marshall and Sons of Seekonk and Glynn Electric of Plymouth, Mass., as well as the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the United Steel Workers.
Estimated at $4.5 million, the turbine is also one of the many investments the Philips Company, owner of Lightolier, has made in Massachusetts. It was, however, studied, designed, and constructed with the support of nearly $540,000 in grants from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, which promotes the state’s efforts to increase nonpolluting energy sources.
Massachusetts is home to several Philips’ owned companies in Andover, Burlington, Framingham and Fall River. They employ nearly 5,000 people and generate $386 million in payroll. In North America, the Dutch company has grown to approximately 25,000 employees, with offices in 22 states. Locally, their plan is to make the Fall Fiver plant have zero net-energy consumption and zero carbon emissions annually. At 2 megawatts, the turbine is expected to generate enough energy to power 500 homes.