2010-11-25 / Letters to the Editor

Turbine issues not ‘insurmountable’

As a new resident of Jamestown, I have been following the wind energy discussion with much interest. For the town to get a feasibility study done, obtain a $750,000 grant, and approve a bond is quite an achievement.

It appeared that the Town Council threw up their hands earlier this fall as the impediments to a project seemed insurmountable. Having been in the wind energy industry for three decades, this is actually normal. Although, as Senator Reed says, wind turbines can be beautiful symbols of man working in harmony with nature, getting them up usually involves an ugly series of seemingly insurmountable hurdles.

At the last Town Council meeting, there was detailed discussion of the latest two potential impediments to a project – FAA height restrictions and electrical interconnect restrictions. The town administrator did some digging into the FAA restrictions and found that there is a good chance that we can get them relaxed and use a bigger turbine. (There are very strong economies of scale with wind energy. That’s why Portsmouth went with a 1,500- kW machine, which is significantly larger than the 660-kW machine used at Portsmouth Abby. Jamestown might want to go bigger still to generate more power and savings.)

The other impediment was potential limitations on connecting with the grid. It turns out that the feasibility study looked at a higher voltage connection for only one of the three sites. I think it’s likely that Taylor Point and Fort Getty could also interconnect at the higher voltage allowing a larger, more productive wind turbine.

It’s encouraging to see the town counselors take another look at the latest obstacles. I encourage them to move forward with the FAA and interconnect studies as they look like surmountable hurdles. I also caution that these probably won’t be the last. However, with the grant and the bond, good winds, falling wind turbine prices, and some perseverance, Jamestown could benefi t financially and environmentally from a wind project.
Harley Lee

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