Posts Tagged ‘wind turbine’

A Call to Action – Windpower 2012

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

by Phil Devita

Steve Barrett and I just returned from the annual America Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Windpower 2012 Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.  We co-authored a poster presentation titled “Municipal Wind Turbine Community Complaints and Noise Measurement Evaluation” summarizing HMMH’s noise assessment for the town of Falmouth Wind-1 and Wind-2 turbines.  The poster session was well attended and there was a lot of interest on the project and our analysis.    

HMMH Poster


The Windpower conference is the world’s largest wind energy event attracting a wide range of industry,  manufacturers and transportation companies just to name a few.  This year’s conference theme was a “call to action” to extending the production tax credit (PTC) which expires at the end of the year.  The PTC is the primary policy driver for wind projects, and without it, there will be a lot of uncertainty moving forward which could impact future wind development.  One study conducted found that extending the PTC would allow the industry to create 100,000 jobs in four years, while an expiration of the PTC could cause a loss of up to 37,000 jobs.

There were numerous speakers at the conference including republicans and democrats that agree the PTC should be renewed this year.  Unlike many issues these days in Washington, the PTC enjoys bi-partisan support.  However, unlike other years, this year is an election year and many politicians are unwilling to go on the record pro or against any issues until after the election.  The hope is with strong bipartisan support, the PTC will be extended before the November elections; however, it is more likely the PTC may be attached to another bill after the elections but before the end of the year.

Some of the interesting speakers this year were Ted Turner (he also spoke at last year’s conference in Anaheim), who kicked off the conference and welcomed AWEA to his hometown and talked colorfully as only Ted Turner can, about the need for more renewable energy and passing the PTC immediately.   Democratic Governor Mike Beebe from Arkansas and Republican Governor Sam Brownback from Kansas both delivered great talks on how the wind industry contributes jobs to their states but in different ways.  Arkansas has attracted manufacturing and supply-chain companies while Kansas is scheduled to develop 1,400 MW of wind in 2012, more than doubling the states wind capacity.

The second day picked up the bipartisan theme with a lively discussion between Karl Rove, former deputy Chief of Staff and adviser to President Bush, and Robert Gibbs, former White House Press Secretary and senior adviser to President Obama.  You would have thought going into the discussion that these gentlemen representing opposite views politically could not agree on the time of day never mind energy issues.  Well surprisingly, there was a lot of common ground on energy issues, including wind energy and extension of the PTC.   Both agreed that wind energy should be part of the energy mix and extension of the PTC should happen and that it should be extended for more than one year.   It was a great view of the current state of Washington politics from two people who are directly involved with many of these issues at the highest levels of government.

After hearing from all the speakers and the call to action to renew the PTC from both sides of the political aisle, it will be fascinating to see how this high stakes poker game plays out.  Let’s hope the PTC ends up on the winning hand and is extended for years to come.

HMMH Exhibits Wind Energy Services at Community Wind Conference

Monday, December 20th, 2010

By Steve Barrett

HMMH attended the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) Community and Small Wind Conference in Portland Oregon during the second week of December.  This was our first time on the road in the “Energy and Climate” arena with our new booth which communicates HMMH’s expanding skill set including renewable energy support services.  While the annual AWEA conference, held each year in late spring, now attracts up to 25,000 attendees and has over 1,000 exhibitors, the Community Wind Conference offers a more intimate venue to meet with the wind industry’s community and residential segment.  Small wind is generally characterized by wind turbines that are under 100 kW; many exhibited at the conference were in the 5-20 kW range suitable for homes, farms, and small industry.  Community wind has a less precise definition but is typically characterized by wind projects owned by landowners with the model being Midwest farmers constructing multiple utility-scale (i.e., 400 foot tall) wind turbines and generating alternative sources of income.  Particularly in more densely developed areas like New England and coastal areas, interest in community wind projects are increasing because projects with fewer wind turbines fit more appropriately into the landscape and the benefits of the wind energy can be provided locally.  Several projects that HMMH has recently worked on in Massachusetts – Falmouth, Cohasset, and West Gloucester – all fit this model.  And because these projects are often located close to residences, they require sound studies to assess potential noise exposure from a proposed wind turbine on neighbors, which is one of HMMH’s developing areas of specialty.  While Portland was seasonally cool and rainy during our visit, the conference provided us with an opportunity to meet people working on small and community wind projects throughout the country and we hope to expand our work in this sector capitalizing on our success in the Northeast.

Portsmouth, RI Runs on Its Own Power

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

by Chris Menge

The Environmental Business Council’s wind energy committee held a meeting and site visit in Portsmouth, RI on September 22nd to hear about and see Portsmouth’s new 1.5 MW utility-scale wind turbine.  HMMH’s Director of Clean Energy, Steve Barrett, organized the meeting as chair of the EBC’s wind energy committee.  The presentation and site visit, attended by 12 to 15 interested parties, was hosted by Gary Gump, who led the effort to get the turbine permitted and built, as chairman of Portsmouth’s Sustainable Energy Subcommittee.

Gary gave an enthusiastic and very informative presentation, which included many details of the economic, legal, logistic, permitting, and construction aspects of the new wind turbine.  The goal of the project was to produce approximately three-fourths of the power required by the town of over 17,000 residents to run its municipal buildings, including the schools. 

The Portsmouth Sustainable Energy Subcommittee started working on the potential use of wind power in 2004.  First, they needed to ensure that a wind turbine would be an economic asset to the town, so they performed an extensive feasibility study that looked at all aspects of the project.

One challenging and critical aspect to making the project economically viable was that Rhode Island law had to be changed to allow for increased municipal net metering.  This change permitted the utility to give credit for power generated by the turbine at up to ten town electric meters, rather the five previously allowed. 

A large enough town-owned site was also needed, with nearby power lines.  Fortunately, Portsmouth High School had sufficient land, not too far from their tennis courts and athletic fields.

At the athletic fields

At the athletic fields

Once the project was deemed feasible, the committee then asked the citizens to vote to approve the project, which they did with a clear majority.  In April 2008, the town signed a contract with AAER of Canada to build the turbine, which was turned over to the town in March 2009.  The turbine has been in operation since then.

The site is very near Route 24, so the large turbine, which is 336 ft high at its highest, is very easily seen by passing motorists.  Our group was able to walk right up to the base of the turbine while it was running, and to go inside the base (Gary had the key) to see the power transfer units and some control systems.

Portsmouth turbine

Portsmouth turbine

Base of the turbine

Base of the turbine

The unit is self-contained and controlled, but it has two monitoring stations, one at the town hall, and one at the fire department.  The fire department controller can also start and stop the turbine, in case of emergencies.  As we saw during Gary’s demonstration at the town hall, these monitoring stations provide a great deal of data on the operation of the turbine, including wind speed and direction, momentary and historical power output, and direction it is pointing, to name a few.

The turbine was turning and generating power during our entire visit.  I was impressed at how quiet this utility-scale turbine seemed, since I’ve done noise studies for wind farms and read much about how some people are affected by the noise.  I did hear the “swish-swish” sound when I was close, but I couldn’t hear it if I was more than about 100 ft away from the turbine.  One advantage of this location was the presence of traffic noise from Route 24, a four-lane divided highway.  Traffic noise has a similar sound character to the turbine noise, so it masks the turbine sound quite effectively.

The Town of Portsmouth Sustainable Energy Subcommittee maintains a Website detailing the project and providing many facts and photographs.  The finacial bottom line that Gary gave us is that the turbine is expected to generate between $450,000 and $500,000 in income annually.  The expenses and debt service will be about $250,000 annually, so the net revenue to the town is expected to be approximately $200,000 per year.  As hoped, this represents about three-fourths of the town’s energy costs.

Congratulations to Gary and the Subcommittee for a very successful sustainable energy project!  And thanks for a terrific presenation and site visit!