Maine's Public Turbines


When applying for wind plant permits, the wind industry makes extravagant claims about the its electricity production. But once a project is in the ground it almost never publicizes the actual electricity production which invariably falls extraordinarily short of its claims.


Therefore, whenever a wind turbine in Maine, an extremely poor wind state, publishes its data we always take note. The most significant of these is the $ 2 million (and counting) industrial wind turbine at the University of Maine at Presque Isle.


The purpose of this section is to report on these other turbines where the wind industry is not able to suppress production data. 


Table of Contents

5/11/10 - Kittery will sell failed wind turbine (received $50,000 grant)

7/19/10 - Saco Councilors to Decide Whether to Take Down Wind Turbine

7/21/10 - Saco finds turbine is a turn for the worse

7/21/10 - Wind Presentation Given to Saco

9/29/10 - UM Student Shows LePage Fallacies of Small Wind Turbines

11/14/10 - A Random Look at Six Private Turbines in Maine

11/16/10 - Kennebunkport Wind turbine passes, project will go to bid (80% funded by Efficiency Maine)

5/17/11- Time for wind reality check (alludes to UMPI)

8/1/11 - UMS Board of Trustees Approved UMPI Turbine in "Lovefest"

8/3/11 - A Brief History of University of Maine's $2 Million Wind Turbine Experiment (49 page PDF document)

10/20/11 - KVCC turbine begins turning (Funded by Efficiency Maine)

11/12/11 - Wind Presentation Given to Saco (date of posting on this site)

12/5/11 - Peaks Island Gives Up on Wind Power citing inefficient wind and aesthetic concerns

5/23/13 - Broken windmill in Saco takes turn for better



5/11/10 - Kittery will sell failed wind turbine (received $50,000 grant)

Kittery will sell failed wind turbine 
Town expects to receive less in return than it paid

By Charles McMahon
May 11, 2010
KITTERY, Maine — The Town Council on Monday night unanimously agreed to offload a wind turbine that failed to live up to its expectations and will now look to sell the alternative energy equipment for much less than the town paid for it.
By a vote of 7-0, the council agreed to consider a proposal from Western Community Energy of Portland, Ore., for the sale of the turbine and the pole for $130,000.
The equipment was sold to the town for $191,000 in October 2008 by a company called Entegrity after it had been vetted by the town energy committee and the council.
Installed near the town transfer station, the 50-kilowatt turbine failed significantly, only producing less than 11 kilowatt hours of electricity.
When the town realized last year the turbine was not producing up to expectations, arrangements were made with Entegrity to repurchase the equipment. The business ultimately went bankrupt and no payments were made.
Town Manager Jon Carter said the town maintained communication with Entregrity's owner, Jim Heath, and recently received a proposal that would allow for the sale of the failed equipment.
"He continues to indicate he wishes to make good on his repurchase agreement," Carter said.
The council previously discussed the possible sale of the turbine at its last meeting and came up with several questions.
Carter reported to the council that Heath would receive no commission on the sale, and the state approved taking $34,214 in repayment for a $50,000 grant received to help purchase the equipment.
Carter said the payment of $130,000, once finalized through a purchase and sale agreement, would be wired to the town's bank account and the cost of dismantling the equipment would be incurred by the buyer.
He added that if the town were ever to get into the alternative energy business again, it would already have a platform and associated wiring installed.
Councilor Frank Dennett said he wasn't happy about having to sell the equipment, but in hindsight it should not have been approved in the first place.
"That's what you get when you listen to Ph.D.s," Dennett said. "Lesson learned. Once burned, twice cautious."

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7/19/10 - Saco Councilors to Decide Whether to Take Down Wind Turbine


Saco Councilors to Decide Whether to Take Down Wind Turbine


07/19/2010   Reported By: Josie Huang


Cities and towns around Maine have been looking at wind power as a cleaner, less expensive alternative to oil. The question is whether turbines that capture wind on mountain ridges also have a place in denser, more populated locations at lower elevations. Saco city councilors will take up the issue tonight, when they discuss whether to take down an underperforming wind turbine installed on Saco Island in 2008.

 Related Media

Saco Councilors to Decide Whether to Take Down Win



 "The city was trying to be environmentally-friendly and that's great, if you believe that and if it saves the city money, but when it doesn't, then it looks rather embarrassing, I think," says Saco City Councilor Jeff Christenbury. The 100-foot-tall turbine was supposed to generate 90,000 kilowatts a year, but Christenbury says it's been more like 10,000 kilowatts a year.

The manufacturer has since gone bankrupt, but Entegrity's former owner has offered to buy back the wind turbine for less than the $210,000 purchase price. "I think overwhelmingly the economics of it push my feelings towards accepting the bid of $130,000, moving on and spending that money on something we know works, such as LED lights for street lights," Christenbury says.

 The town of Kittery also bought its wind turbine from Entegrity, and has decided to sell it back for $130,000 rather than maintain a losing investment. "I don't think wind turbines have a place in southern Maine ," says Kittery Town Manager Jon Carter.

 Carter says that Entegrity sales personnel oversold how a wind turbine at the solid waste facility would do. "What did us in was the trees and not being high enough, and in reality the wind duration and sustainability throughout the year wasn't there."

 But others are not ready to give up on wind turbines in southern Maine . Saco City Councilor Eric Cote says the wind turbine in town, to him, represents "a promise."

 "I think they have the potential of working very well," Cote says. "Some locations they work great. I think it's a technology that we should continue to work with."

 Cote says that the Saco Island turbine has generated more power than realized because of a faulty meter. He wants to put bigger blades on the turbine -- something that Jim Heath, former owner of Entegrity has offered as an alternative to buying back the turbine.

 "I understand the manufacturers are willing to upgrade the blades, that would be done the end of 2011 -- I'd like to see how that goes," Heath says. "Because the turbine has been performing, at least in part, as promised and I'm not sure what it's produced in electrictiy. So I think we should give it a longer test period."

 Heath says that the designing has begun. "If you put more area and length, you're going to get more power. So if you start adding all that up, they should be able to get about 50 percent more power. Now if that is enough for them? I don't know. I'm not sure they know."

 Heath, who is trying to jumpstart his wind turbine company again, still harbors doubts that wind turbines outside of open spaces and mountain ridges work for Maine . In fact, he says his sales personnel made a mistake selling the turbines to Kittery and Saco . "So that was a mistake that was made by my company and the customer, and probably just didn't know how dramate the negative impact was going to be until they actually had it in."

 City officials around Maine have been taking note of the experiences of Kittery and Saco . But they haven't written off wind power. Portland city planner Jean Fraser has been working on a draft ordiance for wind power structures. She says that wind power is an evolving technology, and more structures are coming out that might be able to maximize the wind that comes through a city.

 "That's really where Portland 's at, is trying to be open-minded around other types and scales of wind systems, and multiple small ones instead of one big one, maybe," Fraser says.

 Portland will take public comment on the draft ordinance tomorrow at the East End School starting at 4:30 p.m.

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7/21/10 - Saco finds turbine is a turn for the worse

Saco finds turbine is a turn for the worse

The city wants the company's former CEO to make amends for the underperforming unit.

By Beth Quimby
Staff Writer


The Saco City Council wants to meet with the head of the company that sold the city a wind turbine before deciding what to do about the broken structure.


The wind turbine at the Saco Transportation Center has not generated the amount of electricity the city was promised during the unit’s first 18 months of operation, and now it needs repairs.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer


The turbine, which cost $207,000, including $77,000 for the installation, went into operation in February 2008. It was supposed to generate 90,000 kilowatt hours -- $12,600 worth -- of electricity annually for 10 years, according to the city's contract with Entegrity Wind Systems of Prince Edward Island. But it never came close.

The turbine produced 16,000 kilowatt hours during its first 18 months, then broke down several months ago.

The council decided Monday night to meet with James Heath, the former chief executive officer of Entegrity, which was declared bankrupt by a Canadian court in October. Heath had offered at one point to buy the turbine back for $130,000.

"He sounds like a reasonable person," Saco Mayor Ron Michaud said Tuesday.

Saco was not the only Maine community that bought a wind turbine from Entegrity with the goal of cutting electricity costs.

Kittery bought a $200,000 setup. That turbine produced about 35,000 kilowatt hours in a year of service. The Kittery Town Council eventually decided to sell the turbine back to Heath after he offered to buy it.

Details of the transaction are still being worked out, said Kittery Town Manager Jonathan Carter. He said the turbine is expected to come down by the end of this summer.

The Saco City Council also wants to talk to Heath about making repairs to the turbine, which are not expected to be costly.

Heath has indicated that he could develop a new blade that would nearly double the turbine's production to 30,000 kilowatt hours a year, said Howard Carter, Saco's deputy public works director.

It is unclear whether Heath would make repairs or install a new blade for free.

Saco had hoped that its turbine would power the city's Transportation Center, which houses the Amtrak Downeaster train station.

A geothermal energy system that provides heating and cooling for the center has proven to be efficient. But the turbine didn't perform as advertised, so the city has had to buy electricity to supplement the turbine's output.

Michaud said the council hopes to meet with Heath next month, but a meeting has yet to be scheduled.


Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or

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7/21/10 - Wind Presentation Given to Saco (Date of posting on this site; not the date of the actual presentation)

Download PDF at:Saco_ewsi.pdf


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9/29/10 - UM Student Shows LePage Fallacies of Small Wind Turbines

James C. LaBrecque

University of Maine
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Sept. 29, 2010

UM Student Shows LePage Fallacies of Small Wind Turbines

University of Maine Students Open Candidate's Eyes to Fallacies' of Small Wind Turbines

Seven Mechanical engineering students and Capstone advisor Jim LaBrecque present gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage with engineering and statistical facts that money spent on engineering returns a superior economic advantage over small windmills. "The visit was meant to educate the candidates to energy and engineering issues," said LaBrecque.

Alexander Polk, Orono Senior engineering student, gave startling facts to Mr. LePage. For example, a typical $16,500.00 windmill like the one at Mt. Abraham High School produce between 200kWh-500kWh per year - a cost savings of only $30.00-$80.00 per year.

We can't find a windmill with a payback less than two hundred years said Instructor and Capstone adviser Jim LaBrecque. Farmington's sewage treatment plant has a payback of 625 years said Mr. LaBrecque.

Senior student Polk showed that one Mt Abraham student promising to drive only 3/4 of a mile less per day would produce the same energy savings as the sixteen thousand dollar windmill. When Polk explained the 500kWh produced by a typical windmill was 376kWh's short of the 876kWh a 100-watt light bulb takes to run continuously for one year, LePage stated "one of these windmills can't even produce enough electricity to keep one light bulb going for a year."

Earlier this year gubernatorial candidate Libby Mitchell visited the Tranten's market. LaBrecque said the energy savings from the Tranten's market hi-tech refrigeration system is equal to 1,350 $16,500.00 windmills. Plus, the windmills would cost more than 22 million dollars.

The students feel LePage understood their message: we cannot continue to throw money down the drain for nonsense when real energy solutions can be harvested by real engineers.

LaBrecque said energy efficiency and conservation are complex engineering issues. We can no longer depend on lawyers, lobbyist, legislators and special interest groups in Augusta who lead us down this windmill path.

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11/14/10 - A Random Look at Six Private Turbines in Maine (A letter to the Maine Sunday Telegram)



Wind power payoff dependent on subsidies

I am not an energy expert, but I have done enough research on wind power to question the state's uncritical advocacy of it.

An untold number of private citizens and quasi-public entities have been purchasing small turbines that cost upwards of $16,000 not including finance charges. A 30 percent federal tax write-off plus small state subsidies sometimes reduce the burden to about $10,000.

Not one of the randomly selected six sites I know about has produced more than $80 per year in electricity. In addition, I went to Mt. Abrams High School, located next to Sugarloaf, because it probably has Maine's prime wind corridor. It, too, is producing far less than what was promised.

A treatment plant turbine in Farmington also is a costly failure. The last I knew, Saco with its larger $77,000 turbine was trying to persuade the supplier to take it back. The plant manager did not return my call. Kittery evidently did succeed in canceling its purchase. So, all nine operative turbines I know about have been dismal failures.

The state is partly responsible for victimizing these purchasers because officials have publicly been extolling the virtues of wind power. I think state officials have at least two obligations.

They should warn people to be wary of purchasing wind turbines and they should enact a law requiring companies that sell turbines to give rebates when their turbines fail to meet promised production goals.

John Kerry, state energy director, claims that the Efficiency Maine Trust, which offers subsidies, did not look into the economics of wind power. On paper, Maine has a public advocate, but I know of no public warnings from his office.

Finally, our state is committed to producing a fixed number of megawatts from land and ocean sites, but it has done so also without knowing whether wind farms are economically viable.

There needs to a public symposium on the financial feasibility of all wind turbines, small, intermediate and large.

Clyde MacDonald


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11/16/10 - Kennebunkport wind turbine passes, project will go to bid (80% funded by Efficiency Maine)


Wind turbine passes, project will go to bid

By Bridget M. Burns
Staff Writer

A proposed 60-foot wind turbine cleared hurdles about the noise it will generate and was approved at the Nov. 3 Kennebunkport Planning Board meeting. The project passed 3-2. John Hathaway and Leo Famolare opposed.
The turbine was initiated by the town conservation commission, said Town Manager Larry Mead, town liaison for the proposal.
“They came forward and requested the town’s support for a grant from Efficiency Maine,” Mead said.
Sarah Lachance, chairman of the commission, said the grant called for proposals for community demonstration projects under Maine’s renewable resources fund, making its main purpose educational.
“When we were thinking of doing the grant we decided to choose wind because I also work on a committee at (Consolidate School) and at the same time we had an emphasis on trying to get a solar panel project there,” she said.
The turbine, to be constructed adjacent to the town’s Route 9 police station, is expected to save money on the department’s monthly energy bill.
Kennebunkport Police Chief Joe Bruni said he is excited the proposal passed.
“First of all, I’m glad because we are taking a step to go green and demonstrate to the public that we’re making efforts here,” he said. “And that we’re making efforts to cut costs.”
With Consolidated School’s solar panel complete, the addition of the wind turbine will establish two renewable energy projects within less than a half-mile of each other.
“I know there were some concerns of whether the kids would get anything out of it,” Bruni said. “I think they’ll get a lot out of it. If anything, they will see that we’re trying our best to help the environment and set an example for others.”
For Lachance, the educational opportunity extends beyond schoolchildren.
“I am excited about the opportunity to educate the general public about the lack of sound nuisance with residential-size wind turbines,” she said. “I think there has been so much news coverage about the sound issues associated with the industrial-size turbines that most people make the assumption that all wind turbines produce a great deal of noise.”
The town worked hard to address citizen concerns of the possible noise.
“We did a sound study,” Mead said. “We used a consultant from Brunswick called Resource Systems Engineering. They have a lot of expertise in wind projects. They came down and did some field work and site work and did an analysis of this particular structure.”
The results of that sound study were reported at a planning board meeting. 
“The conclusion of that study was that this particular structure will not exceed the town’s noise standards at the boundaries of our property,” Mead said.
The renewable energy the turbine will produce is not just for the benefit of the environment, but also the health of town residents, Lachance said.
“Whether people believe in climate change or not, I think most people believe in asthma,” she said. “Coal-burning plants put so many things in the air that are known to cause asthma attacks.”
Another appeal of the project is the financial advantage that renewable energy provides.
“You get the added benefit that eventually this thing will pay for itself,” Lachance said. “There is really an opportunity to make a change where you actually get your money back. You put new shingles on your roof, your shingles never pay you back.”
Mead agreed.
“Technically you could sell the energy to CMP,” he said. “We will use it to offset the current budget.”
The Efficiency Maine grant will pay 80 percent of construction costs and Kennebunkport will pay 20 percent. The project will go to bid in December. Mead is hopeful construction will start this winter. 
“It will be up and running by the beginning of summer next year,” Mead said.
The wind turbine will be the third in Kennebunkport. There currently is a wind turbine on Walker’s Point and on Whitten Hill Road.
Staff Writer Bridget M. Burns can be reached at 282-4337, ext. 233.

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NOTE: Someone may want to let Ms. Lachance know that we don't burn coal in Maine.


5/17/11 - Time for wind reality check


Time for wind reality check

Posted May 17, 2011, at 8:39 p.m.

Over the past several years, Mainers heard from the Baldacci administration and the

Natural Resources Council of Maine about the supposed virtues of wind power, but we never heard much in the way of facts. We listened as they told us wind power would get us off foreign oil, but it turns out we do not use much oil to generate electricity.

We were told by former Gov. Angus King that Maine was the Saudi Arabia of wind power, and later learned that 15 other states had been given that same line. We could be the Saudi Arabia of hydro power, with real fishways of course, or tidal power.

The Department of Energy‘s wind maps show most of the proposed windsprawl sites in Maine are rated “poor to marginal.”

When the industrial developers are asked for production data, they claim confidentiality. After taking massive tax breaks and subsidies from the taxpayers and money from the ratepayers to fund their transmission lines to deliver energy to southern New England, it would seem reasonable to share data with the public. Mainers will pay dearly if our beautiful state undergoes New Jerseyfication from the 1,800 turbines planned along with hundreds of miles of transmission lines and roads. The impact would be excessive and the benefits paltry.

There is some data available from the University of Maine at Presque Isle, as they post their 600 kw data for all to see. Although the turbine has not been working of late, there are 22 months worth of recorded data available.

The turbine has generated 1,142,852 KWH total or slightly over its first year’s goal of 1 million KWH. This means the turbine has performed at 11.7  percent of capacity.

If the larger turbines are functioning at a similar level it would be a waste to sacrifice rural Maine for such a tiny contribution, much of which would be gobbled up to run the electronics.

UMPI has conducted the only public experiment of industrial wind power in the state.

How important is it for Mainers, not only for those living in close proximity to the

turbines and transmission lines, but for those who will see the increases in their monthly electric bills?

Maine will be asked to pay for 8 percent of about $30 billion in estimated wind required transmission projects, or about $5,000 per household. That is unreasonable for such

minuscule power.

UMPI President Don Zillman characterized his enthusiasm for the turbine as an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10. His enthusiasm is strong, but it is no substitute for empirical analysis, especially since $2 million-plus has been spent, and the wind industry is keeping secrets. There is too much for Maine to lose not to look critically at the data.

The very character and quality of place we enjoy here in Maine is too valuable to risk on

unsubstantiated and unproven claims by the pro-wind cabal. Mainers would be within

their rights to request a clinical analysis of the UMPI experiment rendered by the

university in a multi-disciplinary fashion, drawing upon the university’s engineers,

economists, and other experts.

There is no question Gov. John Baldacci favored wind power. In fact, with the support of the NRCM and others warning of an environmental apocalypse, he had the Legislature pass his “emergency” wind legislation with limited debate.

With a new administration, it is time to step back and examine the law that could transform Maine forever with industrial turbines scattered across the landscape of “Vacationland.” A careful review, without the urgency and hysteria which fostered a bill that was never investigated even superficially, is needed.

One of UMPI’s goals was to educate students and Mainers about wind power. The lesson is ongoing — the importance of doing the homework first, the engineering, economic, and financial studies, and observing the experience of Europeans who have been fighting with fickle wind power for years. Maine should not follow the mistakes of others. After all, Dirigo means “I lead” not “I follow.”

Mike DiCenso of Lincoln is a member of the Friends of Lincoln Lakes.


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8/1/11 - UMS Board of Trustees Approved UMPI Turbine in "Lovefest"

"The University prepared carefully for a discussion of the wind project at the September meeting of the Trustees.  It asked permission for a $2 million total cost project that would install a mid-size wind turbine on campus property.  The president and CFO were armed with data and prepared for the wide variety of questions that the project could legitimately have raised, including the possibility of instinctive dislike of wind power or too bold a campus entrepreneurial activity.  Instead of a grilling, UMPI encountered a love fest."


Excerpted from president Donald Zillman's December 2009 account of the UMPI wind turbine project at:


Separately, following are the term expirations of the University of Maine System Board of Trustees.




Note that profiles of UMS trustees area available at this site, for example:


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8/3/11 - University of Maine's Wind Turbine

This PDF examines the history of the University's industrial wind turbine. As the sole onshore wind experiment by the state, and not an insignicant expense of $2 million and counting, we believe it should give the state pause to question the overblown electricity production promises of the wind industry, on which were based much of the state's expedited wind law that is presently creating havoc with our citizens' health, citizens' rights, wildlife, quality of place, town social dynamics and electricity/transmission rates.

Download PDF at:


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10/20/11 - KVCC turbine begins turning (Funded by Efficiency Maine)

Posted: October 20, 2011
Updated: Today at 10:24 PM

KVCC turbine begins turning


FAIRFIELD -- Dana Doran's children will be pleased the black and yellow "helicopter" has taken flight at Kennebec Valley Community College.


POWER UP: Kennebec Valley Community College President Barbara Woodlee throws the switch to the new wind turbine during a ceremony at theFairfield school on Wednesday. The turbine will power the nearby Muriel P. Frye building and become a teaching tool for students.

Staff photo by David Leaming


At Wednesday's commissioning of the 80-foot, 5-kilowatt wind turbine, the college's director of energy programs said his children have been asking when the helicopter blades would turn and it would fly.

The three turbine blades began to turn Wednesday afternoon about 15 seconds after college President Barbara Woodlee flipped the brake switch near the base of the tower.

The turbine is expected to provide electrical power to the Muriel P. Frye building and be a teaching tool for students in the college's electrical technology program who study small wind power systems design and installation.

Doran said that two years ago Efficiency Maine provided funding for the project.

Dana Fischer, Efficiency Maine's residential program specialist, said the turbine is a fantastic demonstration of the feasibility of wind power technology and provides an opportunity for people to learn a new trade.

Fisher said Kennebec Valley Community College is providing excellent technical education, innovation and leadership in the state.

"In Maine, we need to learn to utilize our resources wisely. We cannot afford to do otherwise," he said, adding the college is developing a workforce that can continue to drive the economy.

When others are debating the role and viability of wind power, Fisher said the college is doing real work utilizing natural resources and moving toward energy independence.

Greg Fletcher, chairman of the college's trade and technical occupations department, thanked Woodlee for giving the go-ahead to erect the tower outside of her then-office space.

Fletcher said he told Woodlee that she wouldn't hear the turbine, that it wouldn't fall on the roof, that birds would not fly into it and that with normal wind speed it would provide enough power for an average home, or about 800 kilowatt hours per month.

Fletcher said the blades will start to turn with the wind blowing 6 mph and that the blades are designed to withstand wind speeds of 130 mph.

Woodlee said she is delighted students at the college will have such a wonderful learning and teaching tool.

Doran said the turbine should not be alternative, but part of the culture and part of the energy portfolio.

The turbine was built with support from the Maine Public Utilities Commission's Community Development Projects Fund as a demonstration project, according to information provided by the college.

Partners in the Kennebec Valley Community College Wind Turbine Demonstration Project are Green Earth Energy, Sustain Mid-Maine, Skowhegan Career & Technical Education Center, Mid-Maine Technical Education Center, and Unity College.

The wind turbine will eventually be joined at the Frye building by a rooftop photovoltaic array to generate electric power from sunlight, according to Jonathan Humphrey, the college's marketing specialist.

"This is a beacon of hope for the community at large," Doran said.

Beth Staples -- 861-9252

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12/5/11 - Peaks Island Gives Up on Wind Power citing inefficient wind and aesthetic concerns

This is about a public turbine that never was thanks to the careful testing and decision making by the people of Peaks Island.

Well, after putting up a meteorological testing tower, from a Peaks Island Environmental Action Team post on 11/28/11 it looks as though Peaks Island has wisely given up on wind power. In announcing this decision, it is noted that "There are many locations in Maine where the wind resource offers low cost and sustainable electric generation." There does not appear to be any further mention or supporting documentation of this assertion. It would be interesting to see such documentation because if anything has been learned from the wind experience in Maine thus far, it is the exact opposite of low cost.

One lesson that should perhaps be learned from this test is that compared to almost all of onshore Maine, Peaks Island has superior winds, yet despite this, their test failed wind power.

The above DOE NREL wind resource map shows Peaks Island wind resource to be superior to almost all of onshore Maine, yet their testing failed wind power.

Peaks Island's unprotected and relatively windy position in Casco Bay. (Peaks Island is marked by the "A")

The wind testing site at Trott-Littlejohn Park on Peaks Island, despite being only half a mile from the open and unprotected waters of the North Atlantic, and thus certainly far windier than most of onshore Maine, produced a failed test for wind power. Congratulations to Peaks Island for its due diligence and excellent decision.

From the minutes of PEAT, the Peaks Environmental Action Team:


Monday, November 28, 2011 - 17:00

In what is probably his final wind report, Sam said he would suggest to the wind group that the remainder of their funds be added to PEAT’s general expense budget.

They have stopped meeting, but still plan to send comments to Efficiency Maine as to how they could incorporate more useful information into their final report.

Monday, November 28, 2011 - 16:44

Wind report

The wind group is winding down its operations, having received a final report finding that we simply do not have enough wind on Peaks. First, however, they plan to push for a more useful document than they found the report to be in its current form.

Monday, November 28, 2011 - 15:01

Wind report

Shortly after the tower was removed, Sam got a report from the University of Maine that our site was not viable. He forwarded that to Lawrence Mott and Mick Wormsley, who had slightly differing takes on the wind results. The core wind group will meet with them to discuss it all and decide whether to fish or cut bait.

Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 12:30

Wind report - what happened at Tuesday night meeting about wind ordinance in Portland

Sam attended the meeting and reports that not many changes were made from the original draft of the ordinance, which would limit turbines to a height of 160 feet in some recreational and open-space areas. He said, though, that it would b e possible to appeal for a variance in special cases. For residential areas, the zoning height limit of 45 feet – although an improvement on the first draft proposal of 35- pretty much makes it an impossibility.

Peaks Island wind power:

Do we have a practical wind resource?

The PEAT wind group has recently received a University of Maine report on the 12-month wind-testing measurement effort we conducted at Trott-Littlejohn Park from August 23, 2010 until August 27, 2011. The report summarized the last quarter of data collected, and offered some insight into the local wind resource and its potential to generate electricity.

In short, the report concludes that Peaks Island does not have an economic wind resource (this is probably why we enjoy being here, as a fruitful wind site is typically not a pleasant place to live). A few points:

  • The results predict a 4.2 m/s (9.2 mph) annual average speed at a 40-meter (132 foot) height.
  • A typical community-scale wind energy site needs more than 5.5 m/s, and to have real impact would need more than 6.5 m/s.
  • It is important to know that wind power is a cubic function of wind speed, so a small difference in wind speed has a huge impact on energy output.
  • The island does have a good wind shear, meaning the higher the tower, the higher the wind speed (common sense), but we have aesthetic limits on how high we would want a tower, and the cost of a higher tower could be problematic.

The wind group has discussed the results with Dr. Mick Womersley of Unity College, who early on had been helpful to our effort, and with Peaks resident Lawrence Mott, who works in the wind industry and is very familiar with the kind of testing that was done here.

Our goal was to determine whether a community wind project on Peaks could be a viable undertaking. After a thorough data collection period of over 365 days and analysis of that data from three knowledgeable sources, it is clear that a wind project would be difficult if not impossible to finance, and that a better focus might be to work on the challenge of making our island homes and businesses tighter and more energy efficient.

There are many locations in Maine where the wind resource offers low cost and sustainable electric generation. Peaks does not appear to be one of them. Installing a wind turbine here would be expensive due to island logistics challenges, limited power transmission wires and limited land. Once complete the wind turbine would then be operating at low capacity due to lower wind speeds, and therefore a poor investment.

The wind group thanks the many islanders who supported the testing effort. If anyone is interested in looking over the University of Maine’s final report, it can be found here.

Sam Saltonstall For the PEAT Wind Group

Peaks Wind - Quarterly Reports

Each report is attached as a PDF file and linked from this page.

August to November 2010

Summary of the wind data collected from August 23 to November 30, 2010. The quarterly results show that average wind speed at 30m is 3.72 m/s.

December 2010 to February 2011

Summary of the wind data collected from December 1, 2010 through February 28, 2011. The quarterly results show that average wind speed at 30m is 4.15 m/s.

March to May 2011

Summary of the wind data collected from March 2 to May 31, 2011. The quarterly results show that average wind speed at 30m is 3.91 m/s, which is below the viable standard for commercial wind turbine operation of around 4.5 m/s.

August 2010 to August 2011 - Final report

Summary of the wind data collected over the year period from August 23, 2010 to August 27, 2011. The yearly results show that average wind speed at 30m is 3.73 m/s, which is below the viable standard for commercial wind turbine operation of around 4.5 m/s. Here is a summary of the Peaks Wind Power effort.

Attachment Size
Peaks Island Quarterly Wind Data Report Aug 2010 to Nov 2010.pdf 13.58 MB
Peaks Island Quarterly Wind Data Report Dec 2010 to Feb 2011.pdf 1.8 MB
Peaks Island Quarterly Wind Data Report Mar 2011 to May 2011.pdf 1.87 MB
Peaks Island Quarterly Wind Data Report June 2011 to August 2011.pdf 1.33 MB

Some Background on the Peaks Island Wind Testing Effort
Sam Saltonstall

In the summer of 2008, a small group of PEAT members decided it was time to stop talking about the potential for wind power on the island and do something about it. They decided to create a brief report for the Peaks Island council describing some of the possibilities related to generating electricity from wind. Then in November, a group of PEAT members heard Soren Hermanson from Denmark and George Baker, economic consultant to the Fox Islands wind project on Vinalhaven, speak at an Island Institute sustainability conference in Belfast.

We continued to gather information and add it to our report, and we invited Baker to visit Peaks and speak about the economic side of wind development based on his work with the Fox Islands project. Over sixty people crowded into the Inn to hear his engrossing presentation. However, Baker expressed skepticism that a wind project could work on Peaks, saying that Penobscot Bay has a more robust wind resource and citing our lower electricity costs through CMP. Erecting two 1.65 Mw turbines to generate roughly the electricity consumed on Peaks Island in a year would also prove to be a difficult construction and siting task.

But wind maps call our wind resource “good”, and we still felt it was worth testing the wind, potentially for a smaller net metering project that could turn the meter backwards for the school, transfer station and community building. We started looking around for the least expensive way to accomplish the testing, while continuing to update the information in our Report to the PIC, which we finally presented at their February workshop.

Through a contact at Efficiency Maine we learned of Unity College's efforts to set up a fledgling wind testing and analysis program. We contacted Associate Professor, Mick Womersley, the faculty member in charge of the program, and invited him down to have a look around and to speak to islanders on the process of testing the wind.

Womersley felt the best location would be on one of the World War ll naval observation towers. But that idea proved impossible because the land on which the tower is located is protected by a conservation easement which forbids the installation of temporary structures for more than 90 days. Wind testing must be conducted for at least a year, due to the seasonal variation in velocity and direction.

We settled on the idea of getting permission from the City to test the wind on its land at Trott Littlejohn Park, a sand and gravel area a bit lower than the naval tower located across Brackett Avenue from the transfer station. This land had no conservation easements, and had been set aside for some future community use. A  community garden is now established on the same parcel. Wind testing at the naval tower would have been grandfathered in, but an exemption from the height restriction of 35' common to all zones on Peaks was needed for testing at Trott.

On March 25th, the Peaks Island Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting the idea of testing the wind and asking the Portland City Council to do the same. PEAT had presented on our wind effort twice to the Energy and Environmental Sustainability Committee of the City Council earlier in the winter, and its Chair, David Marshall, was prepared to work with us to obtain the exemption without cost to us. A Planning Board hearing would be needed, followed by a vote of the City Council.

Meanwhile Unity College decided that a 34 meter meteorological tower would be sufficient, instead of the 60 meter tower originally contemplated. The uneven terrain of the park and the need for a small footprint due to surrounding conservation land made the taller tower impractical. Womersley felt that if we could compare wind data collected at the site with data from local residents weather systems, nearby weather buoys, and an anemometer owned by the Maine State Forest Service at the transfer station, we would have enough information to predict whether the wind resource could justify proceeding with a wind project.

on May 26th the Portland Planning Board held a workshop meeting at which it began to consider height exemption language that would allow a meteorological tower equipped with anemometers and wind vanes to be erected for a year on City land at Trott-Littlejohn Park.  Several Peaks residents spoke in favor of the idea, none against.  Of 27 written comments received prior to the meeting by the Planning Department, 24 favored the idea of wind testing on the island.

 The wind testing amendment was passed unanimously by the Portland City Council a few weeks later.  (You may view it as it was proposed in the “Documents and Links” section of this website.  A performance guarantee was added by the City Council, assuring that the tower would be removed at the end of the testing period.  

PEAT then applied for a conditional use permit under the new ordinance, which was granted unanimously by the Zoning Board of Appeals in August of 2009. A building permit was then secured. Both of these documents had to be renewed because of the unexpected delays described below

About the same time we received our conditional use permit, Unity College notified us that they had not received the needed funding to provide us a wind testing tower and suggested we apply to the University of Maine, which administers a competitive met tower loan program for Efficiency Maine.

After pursuing an involved application process, in November we were awarded one of the five available towers for wind testing to last 365 days. The tower was of a different make and so we had to commission a second safety report. Further contractor delays and insurance complications meant that the new 100 foot tall tower was not actually erected until late August of 2010. After it went up we put up a 6’ fence around the base of the tower. The fence is required by the City.

Since then wind monitoring has been taking place using two anemometers placed at different heights on the tower to record velocities and a vane to log wind direction. Wind data is recorded on a data logger mounted at the base of the tower, downloaded and sent to the University of Maine for analysis. When that data is shared with PEAT we will post it on the “Updates” section of this website. There is no opportunity for viewing the information in real time due to financial constraints.

Meanwhile, the City of Portland is engaged in the creation of a wind generation siting ordinance. The ordinance draft can be viewed by going to this link:

For a captioned slideshow of pictures taken during the testing tower set-up process, go to this link and click on slideshow:


Wind Testing Effort on Peaks Island

Peaks Wind Group 


Peaks Wind Group is an offshoot of PEAT, the Peaks Environmental Action Team. We are drawn together by our desire to find out if the wind resource on the island can be harnessed for the benefit of the community. We are volunteers, not investors. We meet as the need arises, keeping a larger email list of interested folks on the island informed. We welcome newcomers to our effort (call 899-0922 and ask for Sam). Since January of 2009 we have sponsored a series of public information meetings with guest speakers here on energy topics, including the Fox Islands wind project, wind testing procedures and analysis, state energy policy, and solar hot water systems. We have made three additional presentations to inform the Peaks Island Council and the island community about our effort. We believe that these days, energy conservation and efficiency efforts to reduce the use of electricity must be a top priority, and that such efforts will make alternative energy sources such as wind more viable. The Peaks Island Council has endorsed our project, and we are working cooperatively with the University of Maine, Unity College and the City of Portland to realize our goal.



We hope to erect a 100 foot tall meteorological (“met") tower supported by guy wires anchored into the ground on three sides, making for a triangular footprint that extends 70' from the tower base in each direction. Two small arms will be mounted to the tower at different heights. This way, wind velocities at other heights can also be projected. Two anemometers will be mounted on each arm to measure wind speed, providing redundancy if one of them should fail. A small wind vane will measure wind direction. A thermometer will keep track of the temperature, which could help diagnose low readings possibly caused by icing. Every 10 seconds data will be sent to a small battery operated logger. This data can be downloaded to a computer and analyzed, and if we choose, cell phone technology could possibly be used to display real-time wind data on a website or perhaps at the elementary school.


The tower will be located toward the upper back of Trott Littlejohn Park, which is near the center of the Island across Brackett Avenue from the transfer station. Ideally, we would have placed the tower at a higher elevation, but the conservation easements on City owned land west of the park have made this impossible. The park itself is on City owned land without conservation easements and is the site of a community garden project. There is room for both projects without interfering with the recreational trails which run through the park. We chose this site because it is near the middle of the Island and therefore will not impact people’s water views. A future turbine would not have to be located on the same spot. (No decision regarding the location of a turbine has been made.)


The permitting process was completed in January of 2010. The University of Maine will hire a contractor to put up the tower, and we hope this will happen by early spring of 2010, weather permitting.  Data will be collected for at least one year, after which it will be analyzed by the University of Maine in order to determine whether the wind blows sufficiently strong enough and often enough to make the financing of a small turbine project possible. Any decision about a turbine project on the island would be made following the analysis, and would probably involve some kind of community wide decision making process. Funding would have to be secured and the level of public support for the project would have to be substantial.


Electricity generated by fossil fuels pollutes, causing health problems and environmental degradation. As demand for oil increasingly exceeds supply, energy prices will rise and alternative sources will be in demand. Because of carbon dioxide pollution which causes polar ice melting, island communities are vulnerable to sea level rise, which is already happening at an accelerating rate. These and many other concerns related to sustainability are creating a market for alternative energy. Government is providing a variety of incentives in order to encourage its development. The wind is a clean and renewable energy resource. Technology improvements are bringing us quieter and more efficient wind turbines. There is potentially a modest economic benefit to Peaks Island from a community wind project. But in order to be sure a wind turbine is a practical option for Peaks, the wind must be tested first.

January 29, 2009

Wind Energy for Peaks Island

Summary Background Information

for the Peaks Island Council


A sub-group of the Peaks Island Environmental Action Team (PEAT) is interested in exploring the feasibility of and options for developing one or more wind energy generators on Peaks Island.  This summary document presents some of the information that we think we know, and identifies the need for more information. (The terms wind generator and wind turbine are used interchangeably in this report.)

Wind Resource on Peaks Island 

It feels like there is enough wind on Peaks Island to support a wind generator project, but this will need to be confirmed with better data than we have been able to find.  The U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory publishes a map of the wind resource in Maine, based on computer models. This map is included in a report titled "Small Wind Electric Systems" for Maine at:
This map shows average wind speeds for Peaks Island at heights of 10 meters (33 feet) to be 11.5 to 12.5 mph. At a height of 50 meters (165 feet) , the average wind speed for Peaks Island is shown to be in the range of 14.3 to 15.7 mph:
This wind resource is considered to have "fair" potential for wind generation.  


Back in 1981, the STAR Foundation installed a wind speed meter (anemometer) and recorder on Battery Steele; this data has been lost, but it was believed to have shown an average speed of just over 10 mph at a height of only 20 feet above the top of the structure (just barely above the tree/ brush height, but lower than some of the taller spruce trees on the north side of the Battery.)  (The top of Battery Steele is somewhat less than 60 feet above sea level, so the anemometer was at an elevation of less than 80 feet.) 

It will be necessary to get more information on the wind resource.  The most prudent strategy for doing this is to erect a meteorological tower with anemometers mounted at several heights, and to record velocity and direction for at least one year. Wind data can also be purchased from a company called Truewind, but it is expensive.  There are several local options for computer modeling of wind data that would be free or cost less.   

Electrical Demand on Peaks Island 

Detailed data from CMP for the whole island has not yet been obtained.  However, a gross analysis would assume that each house uses about 1,000 kw-hours a month (including commercial and municipal uses for the purpose of estimating the total use on the Island,) and there are about 600 houses on the island.  That would result in a monthly demand of about 600 mega watts-hours, or 7,200 mega watt-hours per year. Obviously, it would be necessary to obtain more detailed information, including the seasonal variation of this demand, if a large wind generator project is pursued.   

As a potential demonstration/ municipal site, data was obtained for the Transfer Station.  The electrical usage is lowest in the summer and fall, the lowest value in 2007 being 2,636 kw-hrs in August; the highest usage is in the winter, the highest value being 6,380 kw-hrs for December, 2007; the annual average is about 4,100 kw-hrs per month, or 49 megawatts per year.  We believe that a municipal wind generator located at the Transfer Station could also be used to offset the electrical use at other municipal buildings on the island, such as the Community Center or School.  Without knowing the usage at these locations, it is guessed that the total municipal electricity usage is less than 200 megawatts per year (which is the typical amount produced by a 100 kilowatt turbine.)  

Wind Generator Types and Sizes 

There are basically three "scales" of wind generators:

  • Small is less than 100 kw

  • Medium is from 100 kw up to 1,000 kw (1 megawatt)

  • Large is 1 megawatt or more  

A small "house scale" wind generator would typically have less than a 5 kw rating, with a rotor diameter of about 15 feet, and a tower height of 50 to 75 feet.   A 50 to 100 kw "small" machine typically has a rotor diameter of about 40 to 60 feet, and it would be installed on a tower from 80 to 125 feet tall.  A 400 kw machine has a rotor diameter of about 100 feet, and it is typically installed on a tower that is about 150 feet tall.  An example of a large wind generator would be a GE 1.5 megawatt wind turbine that has a rotor diameter of over 230 feet (70 meters) about 3/4 of the length of a football field.  The hub can be on a tower that varies between 170 feet (52 meters) and 230 feet (85 meters) above the ground.  These are the machines soon to be installed on Vinalhaven.

The amount of electricity generated by each of these machines obviously depends on the amount of wind that actually blows at the site over time, not to mention the machine's specific efficiency.  All of the machines need a minimum wind speed of about 9 mph to start working, and they reach maximum power at about 30 mph.  Larger machines are typically more efficient at converting wind to electricity.  In Maine, we have found that a 100 kw machine can generate about 200 megawatt-hrs per year; a 400 kw machine could generate about 900 megawatt-hrs per year, and a 1.5 megawatt machine could generate about 3,750 megawatt-hrs per year.   If our estimate of electrical use on Peaks Island is accurate, generating all of the Island’s electrical needs would require either: thirty-five (35) 100kw turbines, eight (8) 500 kw turbines, or two (2) 1.5 megawatt turbines, (or some combination of these options, and not that any or all of these options would be possible.) 

Regulatory Issues 

For this initial review, we can say there are two types of regulatory issues: (1) local government, and (2) state/Federal.  The local regulations primarily relate to land use and siting concerns, while the state/Federal regulations would include electrical utility concerns and environmental permits.  And all of these would depend on the size of the proposed wind generator.   It should be stressed that local, state and federal regulations are being reassessed and are changing.

The City looks favorably on promoting alternative energy. Paragraph 6 in the "Energy Use and Facility Measures" section of Portland's Municipal Climate Action Plan states: 
“The City should explore cost effective small-scale energy generation demonstration projects on City facilities. Such projects, including wind and solar power, offer credible opportunities to show how the City of Portland can play a part in reducing dependence on carbon emitting energy sources. Community support for locally produced energy is growing and the City should be open to using City land in private/public partnerships that reduce overall carbon emissions and potentially benefit the Portland taxpayer.”

However, current City ordinances were not written with wind generators in mind, and the existing height restrictions are prohibitive.  The Planning Division is in the process of drafting a new ordinance for wind generators, and we have requested information regarding the approval process that would be involved in siting a wind turbine on the island.

As of today, there are ten Maine municipalities (Addison, Biddeford, Cape Elizabeth, Damariscotta, Eliot, Manchester, Saco, Topsham, and Wiscasset) that have enacted small wind energy ordinances, all since 2006. These ordinances typically apply to small wind machines, not more than 100 kilowatts. Setbacks from property lines range from 1.0 to 1.1 times the total height of the wind turbine. Noise is generally considered the limiting site factor, with requirements that range from a maximum of 45 to 65 decibels, or dB(A) at the property line. (See the table at the end of this report to relate these levels to typical sounds.) The noise generated by a particular wind generator depends on the specific machine, with newer models typically having lower sound levels. Larger wind turbines may need to have a “special exception” approval that would be more involved than these typical ordinances would allow.

At the state level, utility regulations allow a single user to install a single wind generator up to a size of 100 kw, and use the power as a credit for the power that would otherwise be purchased from the electric utility company.  This credit system is called "net metering," and it effectively makes the generated power have a value equal to the retail cost of electricity.  Any wind generator larger than 100 kw would require negotiating an agreement with a power generation company for purchasing the power at a wholesale rate.   At face value, a net metering wind generator may be advantageous because of the higher value of the power generated.  A larger project would also need to address the state and federal regulations associated with utilities, environmental impact, and organizing the project's development structure (see below under Economics, Development and Financing.)  In any case, it seems clear that professional consultation will be important on any larger wind generation project.

Environmental Impacts 

For the purposes of this summary, this issue would include aesthetic impacts as well as strict environmental impacts such as noise and wildlife conflicts.  Data about the latter needs to be collected early on in the feasibility process before any wind generator project is pursued. The obvious reality is that a bigger wind generator will have a bigger impact.  A study is now being conducted by the Fox Islands Electric Coop to evaluate the environmental impacts of three proposed large wind machines on Vinalhaven with a combined capacity of 4.5 megawatts, and it is expected to be completed in early 2009: 

Economics, Development and Financing 

Here is where things start to get complicated.  A small (100 kw) wind generator project can cost about $250,000.  If the annual cost (capital, operation and maintenance) of such an installation is $25,000, and it produces 200 megawatts per year, the electricity costs $0.125 per kw-hr.  This is less than the retail cost of $0.16 per kw-hr, and it may be possible to obtain grants to reduce the capital cost, and thereby further reduce the electricity cost.  

Larger machines should have a lower unit cost of electrical generation, but the electricity cost needs to be compared to the wholesale cost of electricity, and then there is the whole topic of development structure for a project.  It may be inadvisable to put up a turbine that generates more electricity over a year's time than the island actually uses, due to the uncertainty of pricing the excess power, which could pose a risk to investors in the project.

In general, a project could either be a public one, or a private one.  One model for public projects is the concept of "community power," in which a cooperative organization is formed with public membership to finance and build a project.  An option identified by consultant George Baker at a presentation on Peaks Island on January 12 would be to establish a “Competitive Energy Supply” company to sell power to members of the community at less than the CMP “standard offer” price. From the presentation, it also appears that a public organization can benefit from the same tax incentives and energy credits as a private project.

The private development model is just that: a private developer builds a project and sells the electricity to the transmission company.  There are all sorts of tax incentives and development issues that need to be better understood about the range of development models that could be used.  It will be important to have professional assistance in this regard so that development risks can be minimized and islanders' interests maximized.

Potential Sites and Designs 

It is not just the strength of the wind resource that needs to be considered when siting a wind turbine.  The proximity to an appropriate connection point to the electrical grid, and the ability to transport building materials to the building site must also be taken into consideration.  A detailed site location study would need to be conducted before any wind energy project is pursued.  

As an initial starting point, we could imagine that the Transfer Station site could be suitable for some size of wind generator.  Another potential site could be the higher land where the old military observation towers are located.  One potential problem with this area is that the City- owned land is protected from development by a conservation easement.  This conservation easement does not exist in a 5-acre area that includes the Trott-Littlejohn Park, so this could be a potential site.  There could be other possible locations, but they should not be too close to existing houses, so there are not a lot of them.   

It is worth mentioning that the larger sizes of wind generators could possibly be installed at an offshore location (such as the ledges between Jewell Island and Outer Green?)  This type of project would not be a Peaks Island project, and it would be complicated by the expense of laying underwater cables, which cost roughly one million dollars a mile. However, it may be worthwhile to begin a public dialog about the acceptability of such a project.  


Next Steps

An immediate challenge is to figure out how to obtain adequate wind data to be able to evaluate a potential wind project. Wind data needs to be collected using a meteorological tower and computer software.  We have identified several inexpensive possibilities for doing this in the near future, so it is also important for us to undertake the organizational steps that would be necessary to apply for any necessary funding.  One organizational option would be to acquire not for profit status for PEAT, the Peaks Environmental Action Team.


City personnel have been helpful and supportive with our initial research, and are interested in the direction our efforts take.  But until Portland develops a Zoning Ordinance for wind turbines, no project can realistically happen.


Conclusions and Recommendations 

More information is needed before any type of "community scale" wind energy project is pursued.  Our first priority is to collect wind resource data. Because the location of a wind monitoring tower implies that it could be a site for a wind generator, a thoughtful and reasoned site selection process is necessary. That said, the installation of a wind monitoring tower at any location on the Island will provide information that could be used for evaluating a wind generator in other locations. Any potential site will need to be tentative because all of the potential impacts, regulations, and the economics cannot be known until the wind data is obtained.


The next step should be to get this initial level of information out into the community and begin a dialog about the potential for a wind energy project on Peaks Island.  Communicating with islanders about our research can help to build a sense of ownership which would make wind power on Peaks a real possibility. 

Prepared by:

Albert Presgraves, 
Mike Langella, 
Steve Demos, 
Cynthia Cole, 
Howard Pedlikin, 
Sam Saltonstall

Peaks Island Council Resolution


Peaks Island Council Resolution to the Portland City Council

Peaks Environmental Action Team Wind Testing Initiative

March 25, 2009


WHEREAS global warming, sea level rise, dependence on foreign oil and air pollution all result when fossil fuels are used to generate electricity; and

Whereas wind represents a free resource which can generate renewable energy economically and reliably; and 

Whereas the Peaks Environmental Action Team (lPEAT) is interested in conducting a one to two year wind study on Peaks to determine if a wind turbine project might be possible; and

Whereas PEAT has found in Unity College an organization with the expertise and equipment to carry out such a study at no expense to islanders or the City; and

Whereas Unity College has completed a Peaks Island "preliminary wind power site assessment" which indicates that such a study could confirm National Renewable Energy Laboratory data published in 2007 indicating that "Peaks Island has a coastal Class 3 wind resource of 6.4-7.0 meters/second average annual wind speed", possibly sufficient for a wind turbine project; and

Whereas a team from the college has visited the island, toured several sites, and explained at a public meeting what testing the wind involves; and

Whereas the resulting recorded data could be analyzed by the College to help determine whether an island wind project is economically feasible; and

Whereas such a project would have the potential to benefit the island community; 


BE IT RESOLVED that the Peaks Island Council, by unanimous vote, hereby supports the PEAT wind testing initiative, and petitions the Portland City Council to:

  • endorse this initial step towards developing a clean, alternative power source within the City's boundaries,

  • allow Unity College or its designee to erect wind testing equipment on City Land should that be the property selected pending Peat's satisfactory completion of the necessary permitting steps and compliance with any conservation easements.

  • direct City personnel on Peaks and on the mainland to continue to work cooperatively with PEAT, Unity College and the Peaks Island Council as the wind testing initiative moves forward.

    Report of a preliminary wind power site assessment at Peaks Island, February 17, 2009

    1. Peaks Island Environmental Action Team has been holding discussions with Peaks Island Council and Portland City authorities about the possibility of a wind power installation on various sites owned by the City. A request was made for assistance with wind assessment and planning. Unity College has a nascent program in Community Wind Assessment, is interested in partnering with Efficiency Maine on community and small wind project incubation and agreed to provide advice and possibly anemometry services to Peaks Island, subject to site details, preliminary assessments, and permissions being worked out.

    2. Accordingly after an exchange of telephone calls and emails, a delegation from Unity College consisting of the lead faculty on the Community Wind Assessment program, Dr. Michael Womersley, Mr. Cody Floyd, a student who is learning wind assessment science, and accompanied by Katharine Roux, Environmental Educator working in community outreach for Efficiency Maine, together visited the island to perform a preliminary assessment of anemometry sites and possible turbine sites, meet with PEAT members and Peaks Island councilors, and to give an introductory public talk on wind power and wind assessment.

    3. The basic physical situation of Peaks Island makes it a good option for community or commercial wind power development. The land mass is relatively low-lying in Casco Bay. It is open to the bay and the Gulf of Maine to the east. To the west lies the City of Portland. The height of land is 25-30 meters ASL. The primary land use is residential and vacation homes. The winter population is around 900, but the summer population may be as high as several thousand. The soils are thin, gravelly in places, and primarily found in small pockets with ample ledge. Those areas without housing appear to be primarily second growth forest with a high proportion of conifers.

    4. These data indicate that the wind shear (roughness) factor at the height of land, open to coastal winds, is somewhat more than the coastal standard of 0.1, somewhat less than the open farmland factor of 0.2.

    5. According to the most recent wind energy resource map of Maine published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in 2007, Peaks Island has a coastal Class 3 wind resource of 6.4 -7.0 meters/second average annual wind speed. Taking a Weibull distribution of a lower bound Class 3 wind speed (6.4 m/s) on a coastal situation, with Weibull K of 2 and a near-coastal wind shear factor of 0.15, the following theoretical wind speed distribution is produced:

    Wind Speed Bin (m/s) Wind Probability (f)
    1.00 0.05257
    2.00 0.09697
    3.00 0.12708
    4.00 0.14025
    5.00 0.13748
    6.00 0.12258
    7.00 0.10067
    8.00 0.07673
    9.00 0.05454
    10.00 0.03627
    Wind Speed Bin (m/s) Wind Probability (f)
    11.00 0.02263
    12.00 0.01327
    13.00 0.00732
    14.00 0.00380
    15.00 0.00186
    16.00 0.00086
    17.00 0.00037
    18.00 0.00015
    19.00 0.00006
    20.00 0.00002
    1. These data from a projection should be validated by anemometry before making a significant wind turbine investment, and matched to a specific proposed turbine make and model to determine annual and monthly (for net metering) KWH output and economic feasibility, but the immediate conclusion is that it may be worth proceeding to the anemometry study phase.

    2. The PEAT, with a small number of other members of the Peaks Island community, is currently considering a small to medium scale grid tie wind turbine in the 50-100 KW range suitable for net metering of municipal and other public building electricity consumption, organized in accordance with Maine PUC rules found in Title 3, chap 313, Chap 315, and, depending on the form of the organization set up to own and manage the turbine, possibly the PUC provisional rule on shared ownership (Docket 2008-410). Net metering provides for an economy to small scale that may make such an installation cost effective, subject to a fuller analysis being performed after the anemometry stage data is collected and analyzed. The island’s relative lack of 3-phase electricity distribution lines in suitable height-of-land locations either constrain the location of such a turbine, or are likely to add the cost of an extended 3-phase supply line to the cost of installation.

    3. Less likely, but still possible, is that the island community might consider a larger scale turbine in the 100KW-1.5MW or larger range. The island has an underwater power transmission line, presumably of relatively high capacity sufficient to service the many residential accounts, and to connect a larger scale turbine to the terminal of this transmission line would appear relatively easy compared to other sites currently in consideration, or already commissioned, for large scale wind power in Maine. The economies to large scale with such an installation might make the cost of connection a less significant factor than it is with the 50-100KW range machine in 7) above. The best incentive for such a turbine might be found in the sale of Renewable Energy Credits.

    4. The Peaks Island Environmental Action Team (PEAT) represents a community group likely to be capable of organizing community support for either option 7) or 8) above. Significant amounts of community outreach and organizing would be required. The PEAT has a number of retired professional people capable of organizing this support.

    5. The PEAT and supporters and Peaks Island councilors present at the community meeting on February 17th now understand that any of choices 7) or 8) above represent a wind turbine likely taller than the existing height of land of the island, and clearly visible from all directions, including the view from portions of the City of Portland. This viewshed disruption is the primary negative environmental effect of either option.

    6. Together, Peaks Island Council, the City of Portland and PEAT appear collectively capable of planning and managing the installation and commissioning of a wind turbine, assuming professional wind assessment and planning help are available, and assuming the use of contractors and company technical representatives at the installation and commissioning phase.

    7. SECTION 2 AND 3 ARE NO LONGER VALID, AS THE NAVAL TOWER WILL NOT BE THE TEST SITE!  An excellent anemometry study site is available, consisting of an approximately 80-foot (24 meter) tall World War Two-era naval watchtower at or close to the height of land. The site is at 43 degrees, 39 minutes, 38.59 seconds north latitude, 70 degrees, 11 minutes, 17.38 seconds west longitude. The tower is of sturdy concrete construction with a staircase in reasonable repair leading to the roof. A set of solid, quite new, galvanized steel brackets are already attached to the building, these having been abandoned after the decommissioning of a cable TV receiver dish. The tower belongs to the City of Portland. From the top of the tower, an unimpeded 360-degree view of Casco Bay and the open sea is permitted. This existing tower thus sits directly in the relevant air mass to perform an anemometry study for Peaks Island.

    8. To set up this excellent site for a full-blown anemometry study is relatively inexpensive. The following rig would suffice, and allow for a full set of wind speed data and wind rose data to be collected over the course of one year (recommended for turbines under 100KW), or two years (recommended for larger turbines):

      1. Fabricate a small (roughly thirty-foot) galvanized steel tube anemometer tower, taking the height to 40 meters

      2. Attach a standard NRG lightning conductor to the top of this tower

      3. Attach two banks of double NRG #40 anemometers (total four) and two directional vanes at the 30 and 40 meter AGL height respectively, on standard NRG anemometer brackets to avoid wind shadow

      4. Assemble the galvanized steel tower to the existing brackets on the top of the naval watchtower

      5. Ground the lightning conductor with 6-gauge braided copper cable to a 6 foot ground rod, or several 4-foot ground rods, in soil at the base of the tower. Use heavy-duty lightning conductor p-clips to attach the ground cable to the tower

      6. Place the computer logger in the upper storey of the watchtower building. A hole already exists to run the anemometry wires

      7. Unity College already has most of this equipment available, once retrieved from current sites and serviced for re-use. A small expense is required to provide the necessary small galvanized steel tower, transportation, and incidentals. We would “rob” a much larger 60-meter anemometer tower to provide some, although not all of the equipment. If a community wind assessment site requiring the original tower were to emerge, some top-up equipment would be needed at that point.

    9. The data from such a study, especially a two-year study, would go some ways to validating offshore wind maps for this section of the Maine coast, and would thus be relevant to any future offshore wind power development in the wake of the Governor’s Ocean Energy Task Force report expected this year.

    10. Because of the value of this data to the state, and the ease and small expense of its collection, we recommend that such a study be undertaken by Unity College with support from Efficiency Maine, at the Peaks Island site, assuming permission from the City of Portland to use the site, whether or not a Peaks Island wind development goes ahead on its own.

    11. Unity College would also undertake to analyze the data collected for any future Peaks Island turbine project, and to make all data available to the state, the federal National Renewable Energy Lab or other agencies, and the general public on request.

    This concludes this preliminary site assessment.

    Please refer any questions to

    Mick Womersley,

    Associate Professor

    Unity College Community Wind Assessment

    Center for Global Change and Sustainability

    90 Quaker Hill Road

    Unity, Maine 04988


    Peaks Wind Quarterly Reports
    June 17, 2011
    Three quarterly reports in PDF format have been posted to the new Quarterly Reports page.
    Peaks Wind Testing Tower Set for Delivery
    February 6, 2010
    Thanks to the generosity of Peaks Islanders who contributed to our fundraising effort in January for the wind testing tower’s insurance premium, the wind group of PEAT believes it is back on track now to have the tower set up by early spring in Trott-Littlejohn Park. The tower is temporary, and will most likely reside there for a year gathering wind data that will show whether a small wind project on the island might be economically viable.
    The 100’ tall meteorological tower will be set up in the upper rear portion of the park by a contractor hired by the University of Maine.  Small anemometers at two heights will record wind velocity, a small vane will record wind direction and a thermometer will record temperature data, all of which will be analyzed by the University of Maine.
    The met tower will be supported by three sets of guy wires anchored into the ground.  Dr. Mick Womersley of Unity College has volunteered to bring his students down to do the pull testing required by the safety report.  A generous City employee is loaning us his chain-link kennel fence, which we will use to surround the tower itself.  The lower portion of the outer guy wires will be flagged so that they are easily visible by walkers and skiers.  We will attach a sign to the fence explaining the purpose of the tower and asking people to stay clear.
    The process of obtaining this equipment was lengthy because:
    • The Portland Planning Board had to develop an ordinance that would enable residents to erect wind testing apparatus in the City that exceeds the 35’ height restriction.
    • Our first supplier, Unity College, did not receive funding as anticipated. We then had to apply for a tower from the University of Maine in a competitive process.
    • We were chosen for a tower, but it was of different design, thus requiring a new safety report, the format of which had to be approved by the City of Portland.
    The City is in the process of drafting a wind turbine siting ordinance. Meanwhile you may have seen press about the Vinalhaven project, some of it apparently inaccurate:
    We thank islanders for your support, patience and interest as we waded through this process. If you would like to participate in our group, please contact us. No special expertise is required, just a minimal amount of time and some interest. Additional information is available on the PEAT website.

    October 17, 2009:

    • On August 3rd, the Portland City Council gave its unanimous approval to a text amendment allowing "temporary wind anemometers" to be set up where normally a 35' height restriction would apply.
    • PEAT applied for a conditional use permit using the new language in order to erect a tower in Trott-Littlejohn Park, and on Sept. 3rd the Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously to approve our permit.
    • PEAT walked the area with a PILP member knowledgeable about the location of trails to make sure the tower and associated guy wires would not present a hazard to outdoor recreationists and identified the most suitable location for the tower.  A generous clearance was provided from the Community Garden project also being developed in a nearby area of the property.  The future tower's location was logged using GPS.
    • We applied for the necessary building permit and it was issued to us on September 29th.  The permit is valid for six months.
    • Unfortunately it became apparent by September that Unity College was not going to receive a met tower for us to use due to the fact that all the stimulus money allocated for this purpose was instead going to the University of Maine / Orono.
    • As soon as the University of Maine's Request for Proposals became available we began the application process in the hopes of securing one of the five 34 meter met towers which will be made available on a competitive basis.  Our application is due on Oct. 30th.
    • We are hopeful that we will be one of the tower recipients and that a tower will be in place later this fall.

    July 3, 2009:

    • We have given ourselves a name (at least until something better comes along).  We are now the Peaks Wind Group.
    • The Planning Board of the City of Portland has sent conditional use language to the City Council which will allow for wind testing generally in the City.  23 of 26 comments received from Peaks Island residents were made in support of the new language.  Thank you!  The Council is expected to vote on this zoning amendment at its 7 pm meeting on Monday, Aug. 3rd.
    • In the mean time we are preparing an application to the Zoning Board of Appeals which would allow Unity College to put up the met tower once the Council has approved the new language.
    • We are in the process of applying for a grant that would cover the cost of the required liability insurance while the tower is up, and a performance guarantee that it will be taken down. 
    • PEAT is now a non-profit in the eyes of Maine, but has not yet acquired 501-(C)-3 status.  We are looking fora kindly attorney who might be willing to donate the time necessary to acquire this status.  Any willing hands out there?
    • Our Core Group would welcome new members.  Currently on board are Albert Presgraves, Mary Terry, Mike Langella, Suzy Kane, Howard Pedliken, Cynthia Cole, Bob Clark and Sam Saltonstall.  If you would like to help out, call Sam (899-0922).
    • We are planning a summer informational event for August to update everyone on our progress, particularly summer people who may not yet be aware of our effort.  Stay tuned!
    • PEAT has a new website,, where you can keep up with our work.  Click on "Wind Power"  and you will find a new "who, what, where, when, why" document which explains in detail what we are about.    Please share this resource with summer friends who may not yet be familiar with our initiative.
    • Finally, The Peaks Island Council is hosting an open meeting with the City Council at 10 am on Saturday, July 11th.  Council members will be out here to learn about issues of concern to islanders.  It would be great if they heard from half a dozen or so folks that we are counting on them to pass the conditional use zoning amendment described above.

    If you would like to receive occasional updates like the above via email, contact saltonstallsam@yahoo.comwith your request.

    June 13, 2009:  Portland Planning Board Holds Meetings on Proposed Met Towers
    On May 26th, the Portland Planning Board held a workshop to consider a text change to most city Zones to allow the temporary installation of towers for wind anemometers.  Met towers, as they are called, are under consideration for two City owned properties:  East End Community School and Trott-Littlejohn Park on Peaks Island.  
    The Planning Board invited comments from the audience during the workshop.  Several Peaks residents spoke in favor of the wind testing idea, none against.  Additionally, of 27 written comments received prior to the workshop from Peaks residents, 24 were in favor of the wind testing.
    At its next meeting on June 23rd at 7 pm, the Planning Board is expected to vote on newly drafted height exemption language that would enable a met tower to be set up in Trott-Littlejohn park for a year in order to determine whether there is a sufficient wind resource to justify consderation of a small wind turbine project on Peaks. 
    The new language will reportedly be up on the City's website some time on Friday, June 19th.
    The Board's recommendation will probably go to the Portland City Council for a vote in July.
    The siting of permanent wind energy systems will be addressed in a separate wind ordinance for the City which is under development.   
    March 26, 2009: 
    Last night the Peaks Island Council unanimously approved a resolution supporting the testing of the wind on Peaks and asking the Portland City Council for its support as well.  The text  of the PIC resolution is printed below if you are curious.  We will now be looking for City Council support of wind testing on Peaks, which will hopefully come in the form of a height exemption for a wind testing tower.
    The data will then be analyzed by Unity College at no cost, and if the potential for power generation seems good, it could then be matched to several turbines of similar size in order to see which turbine can produce the most power given the wind resource.  The analysis will  be provided by Unity as it trains its students for work in the wind power industry.
    Though the tower can be set up as tall as 60 meters, it can also be turned into a smaller rig if necessary to match siting requirements.  The tower will be supported by guy wires which come down to four points where they are anchored into the ground.  We are aware that Trott is used for hiking and skiing in the winter, and would like to hear from you if you have particular concerns about the testing tower so that we can try to factor those into the siting process.  We believe that we can be a compatible neighbor for the contemplated community garden.
    There will be no cost to PEAT for the preparation of the exemption from the 35' height restriction.  It will need to be considered first by the Planning Board and then voted on by the City Council.  We thank Energy and Environmental Sustainability Committee Chair David Marshall for his assistance with these procedural matters.
    Trott-Littlejohn Park looks to be the site of choice for the testing.  There are no conservation easements on this City owned land.  Unity College hopes to be able to compare the data collected there with data from a Maine Forest Service anemometer at the transfer station, the system at Tom Bohan's home, which has good exposure to winter winds on the West side of the island, and nearby weather buoys.  We hope to get the met tower in place by some time this summer.  Wind direction, speed, and the frequency with which it blows at different velocities will all be recorded for at least a year.

    5/23/13 - Broken windmill in Saco takes turn for better

    By Ben Meiklejohn Staff Writer

    SACO – The windmill at the Amtrak train station in Saco, which hasn’t been spinning in recent months, will undergo minor repairs and maintenance. Howard Carter, director of the city’s water resource recovery division, said the windmill was recently restarted and a minor oil leak was discovered May 13.

    “We don’t know how long it will take (to fix), or how serious it is,” Carter said.

    The windmill stopped spinning some time in March. Carter said the city does not have instant electronic monitoring of its electrical output, as it did when the windmill initially became operational. It is difficult to know if there are problems unless people notice it is not working and notify city officials. Consequently, Carter said he is not sure exactly when the turning ceased, but his staff discovered that it wasn’t working when they went to the site to perform regularly scheduled maintenance.

    Larkin Enterprises, based in Lincoln, will do the repair work some time next week.

    Central Maine Power credits the city monthly for any electricity it generates that doesn’t get used by the station. Since 2008, when the windmill was first installed, the amount of energy it outputs into the electricity grid varies greatly, resulting in monthly credits from $1 to $250. In the six-month period from August 2012 to January 2013, the city received a total combined credit of $76.53 for electricity generated by the windmill. In that same period, the total amount billed to the city for the Amtrak station’s electricity usage was $9,155.50.

    Amy Oliver, administrative assistant of the public works department, said the city does not track the total kilowatts produced by the windmill. Data on how much energy the windmill generates that is used by the station itself – and not outputted into the grid – was not available.

    Carter said the data is not available because the company that monitored the windmill’s kilowatt production discontinued the service after Entegrity Wind Systems, the company that installed the mill, went bankrupt and stopped paying them. Carter said the city did not want to spend thousands of dollars to install a system to monitor the mill’s energy production.

    Mayor Mark Johnston, who previously donated $15,000 of his own funds toward the windmill’s maintenance, said the windmill is an icon and represents Saco’s commitment to a “greener vision.”

    “There are always going to be problems with energy,” Johnston said. “I was disappointed in an oil leak in my car. Once I bought a brand new car, it had less than 10,000 miles and the engine seized up. Does that mean I’m going to stop buying Audis now? No.”

    Johnston said the windmill is already paid for, that its maintenance does not currently come from taxpayer dollars and he was glad that the necessary repairs were being scheduled for it.

    “We want it to spin,” Johnston said.

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    Last time we got numbers from Saco, the windmill was producing an average $2 per day worth of electricity...on schedule to pay for itself in 238 years. These new numbers are as interesting. And equally fishy. It is just amazing that public officials get away with this foolishness in the local papers. "It's an icon to idealism, stupidity, fiscal waste, and laziness in research."

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Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power


Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

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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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"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."

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