From the September 29th issue of the IRREGULAR ( : KINGFIELD — At Tranten’s Family Market recently, seven mechanical engineering students from the University of Maine and their…

From the September 29th issue of the IRREGULAR

( :

KINGFIELD — At Tranten’s Family Market recently, seven mechanical engineering students from the University of Maine and their Capstone advisor, Jim LaBrecque, presented Paul LePage, a candidate in the race for Governor, with engineering and statistical facts in an effort to make a case that money spent on engineering returns a superior economic advantage over money spent on small windmills.

Alexander Polk, a senior engineering student from Orono, presented startling facts in his PowerPoint presentation to candidate LePage. For example a typical $16,500 windmill, like the one at Mt. Abraham High School, produces between 200 and 500 kWh per year, a cost savings of only $30 to $80 per year.

“We can’t find a windmill with a payback less than two hundred years,” said LaBrecque. The Farmington sewerage treatment plant has a payback of 625 years he noted.

In his presentation to LePage, Polk showed that based on his calculations, one Mt. Abraham student promising to drive only 3/4 of a mile less per day would produce the same energy savings as the $16,500 windmill.

Polk explained to LePage that 500 kWh produced by a typical windmill was 376 kWhs short of the 876 kWh a 100-watt light bulb requires to run continuously for one year.

According to LeBrecque, the intent of the visit was to educate candidates about energy and engineering issues. Earlier this year, candidate Libby Mitchell visited the Tran- ten’s market as part of that endeavor. LaBrecque said that the energy savings from the hi-tech refrigeration system running Tranten’s market is equal to 1,350 of the $16,500 windmills.

At the end of the demonstration, the students felt that LePage genuinely understood their message that we cannot continue to throw money down the drain for such things like small windmills while there are real energy solutions to be harvested by real engineers.

LaBrecque said that he believes energy efficiency and conservation are complex engineering issues and that people can no longer depend on lawyers, lobbyists or legislators but rather on engineers to come up with the necessary answers.

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Comment by Dan McKay on October 1, 2010 at 5:07pm
Comment by Karen Bessey Pease on October 1, 2010 at 5:04pm
That's a good idea. William Tucker, though? Not sure I'm familiar with him...Is he here in Maine?
Comment by Dan McKay on October 1, 2010 at 4:59pm
LaBrecque and all other students of engineering, who, like him, study by the numbers, should be introduced to William Tucker, scientist, and Rob Rand and Steve Ambrose, ( true sound engineers ).
Comment by Karen Bessey Pease on October 1, 2010 at 11:51am
Hmmm. Isn't that the truth? I think the 'wind folks' are going to find there will soon be lots of people they don't like, though, don't you? Word is getting out there, and Mainers are discovering the facts about mountaintop in dustrial wind. That's not good news for the wind industry.

You know, I'm supposing they don't like me much. And I'm betting you're not on their list of good boys who will be receiving tangible benefits this Christmas, either, Dan.

So... 'protect LaBrecque'. Any ideas for me there? If you have any, please email. Thanks, my friend. Keep up the good work.

Comment by Dan McKay on October 1, 2010 at 11:35am
protect LaBrecque. the wind folks won't like him.

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Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT (excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.”

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