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 wind power test failed.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
Each report is attached as a PDF file and linked from this page.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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
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: http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/pdfs/small_wind/small_wind_me.pdf
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: http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/images/windmaps/me_50m_800.jpg.
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.)
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.
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: http://www.foxislands.net/windpower/
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.
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.
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.
Mon, 03/30/2009 - 13:15 — Sam Saltonstall
Report of a preliminary wind power site assessment at Peaks Island, February 17, 2009
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)|
|Wind Speed Bin (m/s)||Wind Probability (f)|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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):
Fabricate a small (roughly thirty-foot) galvanized steel tube anemometer tower, taking the height to 40 meters
Attach a standard NRG lightning conductor to the top of this tower
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
Assemble the galvanized steel tower to the existing brackets on the top of the naval watchtower
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
Place the computer logger in the upper storey of the watchtower building. A hole already exists to run the anemometry wires
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.
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.
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.
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
Unity College Community Wind Assessment
Center for Global Change and Sustainability
90 Quaker Hill Road
Unity, Maine 04988
October 17, 2009:
July 3, 2009:
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For the past two years, the Peaks Environmental Action Team's (PEAT) wind group has worked toward testing the wind resource on Peaks Island. The group has hosted community meetings and informational talks for island residents. Lead by Sam Saltonstall, this volunteer group spent hours exploring the issue, considering a variety of test options and looking at grant opportunities.
Last fall the University of Maine and Efficiency Maine awarded PEAT the loan of a 100' tall meteorological tower to test the wind on Peaks, but various delays have slowed implementation of the project until this summer. The tower loan will allow for one year of wind data gathering. Once a year's worth of wind data is collected, the information will be analyzed to determine whether a wind turbine project might be viable.
PEAT worked with a variety of island organizations and city departments to bring this project forward, first securing a unanimous endorsement from the Peaks Island Council. PEAT then provided useful information as the Portland City Planning Department created its wind testing ordinance, which required city council approval before a height exemption could be provided for the tower.
With a grant from the Peaks Island Fund, PEAT obtained a city-required tower safety report. Working with the City of Portland, PEAT has secured conditional use approval to site the test tower in Trott-Littlejohn Park, which is city-owned land in the center of the island-zoned recreational open space.
With the support of local donations and an Island Institute grant, liability and property insurance was purchased. PEAT worked collaboratively with the new Peaks Island Community Garden to site and insure the tower. A building permit was issued and this spring a $1 lease, signed with the city, formalized the use of space in Trott-Littlejohn Park for the test site.
In early August, after a full year of investigation and a second year of preparation, the tower installer finally broke ground for the project and buried the three required cable anchors to which the tower's guy wires will be attached.
On August 9, Dr. Mick Womersley from Unity College, along with a team of students, successfully performed pull tests to ensure the anchors exceed the manufacturer's strength specifications. The stage was set for the installation of the met tower.
On a rainy Tuesday morning, August 24 to be exact, the tower was delivered and erected. Now that the tower is in place, a fence has been set up around it and a sign posted to describe the purpose of the project. The guy wires have been flagged to be highly visible to the hikers and horseback riders who frequent the park.
Visitors to the site will see two small spinning anemometers affixed to two horizontal arms and a wind vane. Those devices wind velocity and direction. The data will be logged to be analyzed by the University of Maine.
At the end of the testing period, the tower, fencing, and anchors will be removed from the site. Most importantly, islanders will learn whether wind velocities are sufficient to investigate the feasibility of a small community wind project.
Mary Terry is the Island Institute's community development director and a resident of Peaks Island.
Meeting Called to Order:
Roger Berle called the meeting to order at 10:05 a.m. and welcomed guests and committee members. Roger noted that many legislators sent regrets as they are in the midst of budget meetings in Augusta.Wind Power and Alternative Energy Panel Discussion:
George Baker, Island Institute
Marjorie Stratton, Town Manager, Vinalhaven
Sam Saltonstall, PEAT, Peaks Island
Sean Mahoney, Maine Conservation Law Foundation, Ocean Energy Task Force
George Baker opened the discussion with an overview of Community Wind on the coast of Maine and went on to discuss the Fox Islands Wind Energy Project. On most islands, energy costs are high, infrastructure costs are high and there is an excellent wind energy resource available.
An overview of George's remarks may be found at: (see attached PDF file- Maine Islands Coalition.)
A question and answer period followed George's overview. Questions centered on selling of wind-generated power, setbacks, the possibility of offshore development, and how Community Wind generated energy is priced.
Selling of wind-generated power involves a negioated contract between two entitites addressing the sale of power generated when the wind is available and the purchase of power when the wind is not generating power.
Setbacks for wind turbines are determined by local, state and federal regulations and vary based upon the size and height of the turbines. Generally, setbacks are determined to address noise, ice throw, visual impact, and other related issues.
The possibility of offshore development is exciting but involves a different set of issues. Sean Mahoney addressed some of these issues later in the meeting.
Community Wind energy is priced based upon the debt service for the project, project operating expenses and the net value of renewable energy credits.
Marjorie Stratton, Vinalhaven Town Manager, spoke to municipal issues around Community Wind on Vinalhaven. The Fox Islands project, developed by Fox Islands Electric Co-op (FIEC), is the result of several years of studying the potential for alternative energy. FIEC has worked with Representative Hannah Pingree, George Baker, a director of the Swans Island Electric Coop, and the Island Institute to develop the details of a plan.
In 2007, the municipality established a wind power ordinance. Smaller projects were addressed through a later amendment.
The Co-op worked with the public to explain how a community wind project might work. People on island generally think it is "the right thing to do." The municipality and residents hope that this project will stabilize energy rates. A community wide vote was overwhelmingly supportive of the project.
The Co-op is actively working with the community to work out the challenges of building the project.
Several attendees posed questions to Marjorie.
Who owns the land? The land is leased from the two islands.
Is the site for the three towers the same parcel? Yes, the turbines are on one plot set roughly 800 feet apart for wake effect curtailment.
What has the community involvement been like and what methods has FIEC used to allay concerns? There have not been many concerns voiced. Most community members are excited about the project. FIEC worked to educate the community, both year round and summer residents. The cost spikes experienced by residents made the project feasible as a way to stabilize rates. The FIEC has been open and honest and acknowledged the risks. They asked the community if they want to "do this" project.
Sam Saltonstall discussed the Peaks Environmental Action Team's process in exploring the feasibility of wind energy on Peaks Island. The initiative grew out of regular PEAT meetings last fall. Members began to realize they had many questions and worked to create a report to present to the Peaks Island Council (PIC). Much of the material collected for the report indicated that measuring the wind was a "doable" project. PEAT members continued to educate themselves and the community. PEAT members attended the Island Institute's Sustainability Conference, invited George Baker to speak on Peaks, contacted Efficiency Maine and eventually began working with Mick Womersley of Unity College. PEAT continues to hold monthly educational events that are open to the community.
PEAT has gained support from the PIC to pursue the installation of an anemometer to measure the wind resource. PEAT is now working with Mick Womersley to locate, install, and monitor the unit. Sam noted that changing legislative landscape has made this process interesting.
For additional information on the Peaks Island wind exploration, please see:
PEAT Website: http://greenerpeaks.org/
Unity College's wind site (Assoc. Professor Mick Womersley): http://www.unity.edu/facultypages/womersley/windweb.htm
Emergent Webinar (use Active X controls to watch): https://eval.webex.com/eval/lsr.php?AT=pb&SP=EC&rID=3157937...