Friday, January 11, 2008

News article on our wind assessment project

From Craig Crosby of the Kennebec Journal

THORNDIKE -- A tower recently placed near the site of the new Mt. View school could hold the key to supplying the school with electricity. The tower, which was erected in November, was fitted with three anemometers at 130, 165 and 196 feet. The anemometers will record wind speed over the next year to determine whether conditions are right for an electricity-generating wind turbine.

"We're hoping for average wind speeds of between 12 and 14 miles per hour, which would justify installation of a small, utility scale turbine on site able to produce 20 to 30 percent of the electricity needed for the school," said Stephen Cole of Coastal Enterprises of Wiscasset, which is heading up the study.

School Administrative District 3's new pre-K through 12th grade school is expected to open in the fall of 2009.

Though the district is a partner in the study and officials are interested in installing a turbine, Coastal Enterprises is bearing the costs of the study through grants.

The study, which is being conducted with support from Unity College, began last January, when anemometers were installed on a 100-foot wind turbine tower on a farm on nearby Knox Ridge.

Vermont-based NRG Systems, whose director of manufacturing is a Unity College graduate, donated a meteorological tower to erect at the new school site. The tower has been in place since November.

Wind speeds at the farm averaged just 9 miles per hour over the past year, but Cole is hopeful the higher position at Mt. View School will be enough for an additional three miles per hour, which would justify a turbine.

Though the top anemometer on the tower is at about 196 feet, the proposed wind turbine would reach between 140 and 160 feet at the blades' highest point, Cole said.

If the yearlong study finds the location is appropriate for a turbine, Cole hopes to raise the money and complete the project in time for the school's opening in 2009.

Craig Crosby -- 487-3288

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