Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Blue Hill on the hill, and other sustainability activities
Here's Unity College professor John "Z" Zavodny planting tomatoes under the strict supervision of former Unity College student and current Community Garden manager Sara Trunzo.
Planting tomatoes is good for the soul. John is a very soulful guy.
Then there's a couple shots of our local wind farm. Several folks from a prospective community wind cooperative from the Blue Hill peninsula came to visit, to learn about wind power anemometry and planning, and to see for themselves the scale and impact of these huge GE 1.5 MW machines.
It was a breezy day and the 1.5's were running at their regulated rpm of 12. They were almost certainly putting out a full 1.5 MW. They were also putting out about 2/3 of the maximum noise they put out. Paradoxically, if the wind increases a bit, the noise increases too, but after a while the wind in the trees and leaves will make more noise than the turbine. Turbines on relatively low wind sites may actually make more noise disamenity than those on high wind sites.
Good planning can help mitigate the primary impacts, which are this noise disamenity and the shadow flicker. You also have to remember that more than one turbine on a site makes more noise, and that the majority of the noise will be felt downwind of the turbine. The prevailing wind on any site is likely to be out of a different quarter than the wind that is strong enough to spin the turbine, so the noise may show up in an unexpected place. On this site the wind that is above 4.5 meters/second, above the cut-in speed of the turbine, is almost certainly out of the northeast while the prevailing wind is from the southwest. That northeast wind will drive the turbine noise downwind to the southwest.
All this is predictable and plan-able. You can anticipate the noise impact, and either put the turbine in a different place, or offer a stream of income compensation to the most impacted residents. But if you are foolish enough, or in too much of a hurry to get your turbine up, you can make a family or householder who lives downwind very miserable.
I think our Blue Hill folks have already learned a good deal about how these things work, and will plan out a good, useful development that minimizes the impacts and makes money and green power. In addition, because this is a locally-owned and locally controlled development, much of the money they make will stay in the community and circulate. This is the economic multiplier theory: Every dollar-making unit of locally actuated and owned productive capital can make five or six dollars of local and regional economic multiplier.
Here they are doing their homework. Some very smart, very publicly-minded Mainers. We could use a few more folks like them.