Library filed under Technology from Maine
"It's not new blades," said Baker. "They're applying these serrations to the trailing edge of the blades. They look like sharks teeth. We're going to have the meanest looking turbines on the East Coast." Baker said the Vinalhaven installation is only the third application of the LNTE system, worldwide.
Calculations by LaBrecque and his team of students found a typical $16,500 windmill only produces between 200 and 500 kilowatt hours of electricity per year - not enough to keep a 100-watt light bulb running for a year. This amounts to a $30 to $80 cost savings per year - meaning the windmill, if saving $80 a year, would pay for itself only after 206 years.
LaBrecque said energy efficiency and conservation are complex engineering issues. We can no longer depend on lawyers, lobbyist, legislators and special interest groups in Augusta who lead us down this windmill path.
State and regional regulators acknowledge the hurdles - especially in northern New Hampshire - but don't have ready solutions. A bill before the New Hampshire Senate would have the state be ready to act if no regional solution is forthcoming. ISO New England, which manages power for the region, is considering changing rules so more of the costs of transmission upgrades could be shared regionally. But as things stand now, backers of projects generally must pay for upgrades needed to connect them to the system. "None of this is a real speedy process," acknowledges Michael Harrington, senior regional policy adviser for the state Public Utilities Commission.
This is a stiff wind turbine, and Kittery is in a low wind speed regime. The committee looked at the cost of the three turbines proposed and almost totally ignored if it would produce the power. Saco has a wind regime that is about 10-15 percent than higher than Kittery's wind. This turbine should be installed at 50 meters - another 35-plus feet higher than the permit calls for. ...A comparison of the three machines was provided in table format by Seacoast Consulting, but the most important piece of data on the three proposals - the cut on wind speed was not in the comparison. The committee chose the machine based solely on the cost. If Kittery were purchasing a boat and a bid came in at a cost of $190,000 and the other came in at $210,000, and the seller of the two boats did not tell you that the first boat would not float but the second boat was sea worthy, it would be a poor choice to buy the cheaper boat. Kittery should do the same with a wind turbine. Buy a turbine that will turn - not one that will sit there for all but two-three months and not turn.
As consumers, we pay the full market price for wind-generated electricity plus the value of renewable energy credits mandated by the Legislature. As federal taxpayers, we donate another two cents per kWh, and support the fast depreciation (tax savings) allowed wind installation entrepreneurs. Mars Hill’s units produce 1 percent of Maine’s electricity and 0.01 percent of New England’s. The Kibby Mountain proposal of 44 three-MW units is projected to produce about .37 billion kWh per year. The number of kilowatt-hours supplied by the wind is very small. The combined output from Mars Hill and Kibby Mountain would be about 5 percent of Maine’s or .5 percent of the total New England grid. The real cost of wind energy, if broken out on our electric bill, would be a shock.
The new plan stands a much better chance of getting built because it doesn't disturb the most sensitive areas and is farther from the Appalachian Trail. But it is still an example of how conflicted environmentalists can be on wind energy. The Conservation Law Foundation, a strong supporter of the plan from the start, urged the commission to reconsider instead of killing the plan. According to CLF, global warming from fossil fuel use is a much bigger threat to the environment and wildlife than the wind turbines. Maine Audubon, a steadfast opponent of the plan, argued against giving the developer extra time to regroup instead of having to start over. As Audubon saw the Redington plan, the impacts on wildlife and a sensitive natural resource outweighed the benefits of that particular wind farm.
The Federal Communications Commission recently began the process of considering new rules to reduce the number of birds killed in collisions with communications towers. The best way to reduce collisions is to have fewer towers by collocating equipment on one structure. The FCC rulemaking furthers the national discussion of collocation, which can benefit more than birds.
``The problem we're having with all these wind farms is . . . they're proposing to put them in all the worst places," said Thomas W. French , assistant director of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. ``If they could do what the Russell Biomass plant did, which is to find a preexisting, historical industrial district, we'd be applauding them." As part of the ongoing state permitting process for the plant, French's division worked with its developers to reroute proposed power lines to reduce their impact on wildlife.
Charles B. Cooper, a Massachusetts-based consultant who has been retained by Maine Tidal Energy Co., said the company is developing new technology for its Maine and national tidal energy projects. The tidal in-stream energy conversion units, which could be used in the Kennebec River, would resemble a tall fan with a giant hole in the middle of the section where the blades would be located. Portions of blades, or propellers, would extend 20 to 50 feet outward through the rim of the fan. As the tides flow in and out of the river with each lunar cycle, the blades would rotate slowly -- in the range of three to 10 revolutions per minute, Cooper said.
Unlike the wind, tides are predictable. Also, water's greater density means fewer turbines are needed to produce the same amount of electricity as wind turbines. And since they're under water, tidal projects don't come with aesthetic issues like those associated with wind farms.
The head of New England's biggest natural gas utility promised yesterday that homes and businesses across the region will face no shortage of gas for heating this winter.