MMA Innovation Award winner
Award presented on January 23, 2010

The unveiling of a 131-foot wind turbine on the grounds of John McGlynn Sr. Elementary and Middle School in Medford in early 2009 came roughly a decade after the city embraced the goals of the international Cities for Climate Protection Campaign.

But the 100-kilowatt turbine – which is supplying about 10 percent of the school’s energy needs and canceling out as much as 133 tons per year of carbon dioxide that would otherwise enter the atmosphere – is by no means the culmination of the city’s efforts. According to Mayor Michael McGlynn, Medford is already looking ahead to the possibility of large-scale solar-power arrays as well as additional wind turbines.

“I think that now that people have seen [the wind turbine at the school] and love it, they want to do more,” McGlynn said.

The project’s educational component helps account for its popularity. The Medford Clean Energy Committee’s Web site (www.medfordcleanenergy.org) provides real-time data on wind speed and the amount of power being generated, as well as running totals of cost savings and pollutant offsets. The city, in partnership with Tufts University and Whole Foods Markets, is creating a “Renewable Energy Education Park” that is scheduled to be completed this fall.

“The greatest benefit [of the wind turbine] is the education of a whole new generation,” McGlynn said. “In one short year, I now have parents telling me what they’ve learned from their children.”

The Medford City Council’s vote to support the ICLEI Cities for Climate Protection Campaign back in 1999 led, two years later, to the city becoming the first in the state to establish a local-action plan for reducing greenhouse gases. One of the action-items included in the plan was the creation of a municipal Energy and Environment Office, now headed by Patricia Barry.

A wind-feasibility study was undertaken in the fall of 2006, and the following spring the city received a $250,000 grant from the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust. When construction costs ended up being $100,000 higher than projected, Medford considered auctioning off the naming rights to the project, but instead was able to obtain the needed amount, over a five-year period, from the Massachusetts Energy Consumers Alliance.

According to McGlynn, Congressman Edward Markey recently touted Medford’s efforts in Washington, where he chairs the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

“Every little step that people take is part of that whole big picture,” McGlynn said.

For more information, contact Michael McGlynn at (781) 393-2408.