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The Peninsula
Web exclusive, February 4, 2010
Peninsula Power considers smaller turbines

Wind Energy Archive
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by Jonathan Thomas

In its continuing effort to create wind-generated electricity in the area, six members of the Peninsula Power group met in the Blue Hill town office on Thursday evening, January 28. Blue Hill selectman Jim Schatz, who also represents the district in the legislature, participated.

The primary business of the evening was a speakerphone conference call to a supplier of wind turbines, Tom Holmes, of Sun Wind, LLC, in Brewster, Mass. Holmes provided information and answered questions on several models of wind turbines that would be smaller than the three 1.5-megawatt turbines recently set up on Vinalhaven.

At previous Peninsula Power meetings, the group took note of turbine noise complaints from some Vinalhaven residents and recognized that the issue would need to be addressed in order to gain support for its efforts. (See the guest column by Peninsula Power chairman Paul Trowbridge in the January 7 issue of The Weekly Packet.)

Following up on this concern, Trowbridge and others questioned Holmes about the noise output of smaller turbines that his company has installed near residential areas on Cape Cod and elsewhere. Committee members said they would do follow-up research based on what they learned from Holmes.

Trowbridge noted that although there were economies of scale in larger turbines, current Maine Department of Environmental Protection regulations required very expensive environmental impact studies for turbines larger than 100 kilowatts, so that 100 kW turbines could have a cost advantage over larger ones.

Such turbines would serve neighborhoods, rather than entire regions, and would require fewer changes to the transmission infrastructure, and be less likely to create noise problems.

In other business, Trowbridge said that from discussion at the January 21 meeting of the Sedgwick board of selectmen, agreements were closer between the town, the university, and landowner Gordon Gianninoto for the placement of the test tower on Caterpillar Hill.

The committee’s next meeting will be on Thursday, February 11, at 7 p.m., in the town office.