Reporter: Chie Togami
There have been many moments since the Gubernatorial forum that I have puzzled over the mantra repeated by one particular candidate – Tim Cahill, Massachusetts’ State Treasurer.
It was with great earnestness in his eyes that he proclaimed from the podium, “In a conflict between protecting the environment and growing the economy, I will take a pro-growth stance.”
Sitting silently in the second pew of the Old South Meeting House, I could feel a familiar frustration well up inside my gut. Here again was another reminder that even an extremely intelligent individual can be fooled into believing in an inherently false dichotomy: that a healthy, vibrant economy is necessarily at odds with the welfare of the environment that supports it.
Yesterday, I, along with three other members of the Eastern Mass team had the opportunity and great satisfaction of meeting with an owner of a business who is proving that business and green initiatives can have a symbiotic relationship. Mark Richey, of Mark Richey Woodworking has a philosophy which is very different than your average businessman. Anywhere a person ventures in Newburyport, his business is easy to locate thanks to the majestic wind turbine standing as a beacon of hope in this charming seaport community.
As the Eastern Mass team waited for him in the lobby of his immaculate workplace, we marveled at his exquisite collection of nature photography. Despite these clues, we were yet surprised to be greeted by an extremely down-to-earth man wearing a comfortable pair of flipflops.
Mr. Richey then proceeded to give us a personal tour of the windmill – inside and out! Standing next to the mammoth structure, he pointed out with a smile that modern wind turbines, such as his, are no louder than a cat’s purr when standing 15 feet away. Once inside, he showed us the state-of-art computer responsible for automatically switching on the turbine when wind speeds permit, and then rotating both the head and blades to achieve maximum power production.
With the energy produced from this turbine, as well as the company’s biomass furnace supplied with their own woodchips, Mark Richey is able to meet 85% of his company’s energy needs. And what of that last 15%? Richey reported to us that plans are in the works for a new solar array.
With a price tag of 2 million, the windmill is certainly a pricey investment. However, as Mark and his wife Teresa explained to us, “We knew it was the right thing to do, to protect the environment, and to strengthen and grow our business.” Current projections estimate that the wind turbine will pay for itself in 7-9 years. Richey plans to use later profits to reinvest in his company and other worthwhile philanthropic endeavors. To him, the important link between a healthy business and a healthy environment is a no-brainer.
Two Wind Turbine Fun Facts:
• Wind Turbines are QUIET. An operating modern wind turbine at a distance of 750 to 1000 feet is no noisier than a kitchen refrigerator or moderately quiet room.
• For every 10,000 birds killed by human activities (oil spills, pesticides, buildings/windows, household pets, vehicles) less than ONE death is caused by a wind turbine.
Watch the video to hear Mark Richey himself!