Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Anemometer going up at Portland's East End School site

Via the Portland Press Herald, Portland School Department's facilities manager, Doug Sherwood, is moving forward with plans to install a test anemometer at the East End School site on Portland's Eastern Prom - the first step towards installing a utility-scale wind turbine on the site, an idea I'd written about last November. After a few months of testing the winds, school officials should have an estimate for the best size of turbine to install there. Hopefully the scale won't be limited by what the school can afford (which isn't much). I could see a private or community-owned enterprise putting up the capital cost for a turbine or turbines, then selling some of the electricity back to the school at reduced rates in exchange for the use of their site.

The test anemometer would come on loan from the Efficiency Maine program, which recently acquired several anemometers for the express purpose of loaning them out to potential wind power developers.

A few months ago I'd spoken with a local utility-scale wind power developer about building turbines here, but he basically told me that his company wasn't interested in building in an urban location, because he was so certain that the neighbors would throw fits, and because the city's zoning doesn't allow it yet. I'd like to prove him wrong on the first point; on the second, I'd like our city's planners to get with the program and establish a flexible wind power siting ordinance.

Besides the Eastern Prom site, Portland also has a number of islands that could benefit from cheaper and more reliable power delivery if they were allowed to build their own wind generators.


Jim said...

As one of your self-selecting readers, I'm probably not representative. But I'm not so sure. P-town is one of the most progressive urban areas in the northeast. I, for one, would be thrilled to see a turbine or two go up on the hill above the sewage treatment plant. Particularly if it was in municipal or quasi-municipal ownership. There is little more satisfying than watching almost completely impactless energy being generated.

C Neal said...

I agree - I think that the idea is more likely to fly here than in places where there's more money than good sense (I'm talking about you, Nantucket).

Plus, the hilltop next to the East End School isn't really in anyone's foreground views. The big Soviet-style apartment tower next door presents a windowless wall to the site, and the only other neighbors are 50 feet down the hillside, and they'd have to crane their necks to see any windmills that go there.

jamie said...

You know where we need turbines? Along Franklin Arterial! That's got to be the biggest windtunnel in town...