2010-03-11 / Editorial

A wind turbine that everyone can see

• EDITORIAL •

Look northeast on a clear day while crossing the Newport Pell Bridge and you can see in the distance two giant wind turbines almost silently generating electricity without polluting our environment.

The larger of those two wind turbines is found right next door to Portsmouth High School. If you drive around to the rear of the high school, there is a pathway leading to the wind turbine. The wind turbine is next door to basketball courts and there are homes and apartment buildings nearby.

On Sunday, my wife and I walked up the pathway to the base of the wind turbine. There are no fences – the area is open to the public. I stood beneath the giant blades and shot the photograph seen to the right of this missive.

The wind turbine is quiet, much more so than I expected from something so large. There is a soft “swoosh” as the wind turns the blades, somewhat like one might hear if a giant raptor swooped overhead. I also noticed a faint electro-mechanical “hum” and a “bing.”

That was all.

There’s an information panel posted near the pathway answering many questions about the wind turbine. The turbine is located atop “Windmill Hill,” where colonists built the first windmill – used for grinding grain – in the mid-1600s.

The wind turbine, which came online one year ago, is 336 feet tall from the base to the blade tip. The turbine is expected to generate more than 3 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. The Portsmouth town municipal and school usage is about 4 million kilowatt-hours per year, the panel explains.

There is quite a lot of detail on the panel about how the wind turbine functions. The town has little to do with its operation. A Canadian company installed the wind turbine and monitors its operation remotely. If sensors detect something amiss, an emergency brake can stop the rotors quickly. If you’d like to read more about the wind turbine, visit www. portsmouthrienergy.com.

Better yet, I recommend that you visit the wind turbine and stand beneath those slow-turning blades. It is an impressive sight.

— Jeff McDonough

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