Sunday, May 04, 2008

New devices help measure potential for wind projects

Bangor Daily News

By Anne Ravana
Thursday, May 01, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine and a state energy efficiency program have acquired two devices used to measure wind speed and determine whether an area is a good location for a wind turbine.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission’s Efficiency Maine Program and UM representatives announced at a news conference Wednesday that they will begin accepting applications from schools, towns, nonprofits and businesses that want to borrow the anemometers to assess the potential for small-scale wind projects designed to generate greater than 500 kilowatts of electricity.

The program was created to aid in the development of small wind projects rather than big projects such as the wind installation at Mars Hill. Residential applicants are not eligible.

"Wind generators are a big investment and we’ve received requests from citizens about how to get more wind data," said Public Utilities Commissioner Sharon Reishus. "We know that Maine has tremendous wind resources — the most in New England — that have not yet been captured."

The anemometers were bought with a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

UM engineering students have set up one of the anemometers in a field on the Orono campus for demonstration purposes. The anemometer is a slim metal tower that stands 98.4 feet high and measures wind speed and direction.

When an anemometer is loaned out, engineering students will collect data and write reports to provide clients with information regarding the availability of wind at the site. That information will also be made public via the Efficiency Maine Web site.

The anemometer equipment remains at a site for up to 12 months. The landowners are responsible for the equipment while it is installed at their site as well as for permitting and insurance requests.

UM will conduct preliminary assessments of applicants using available wind resource data from the area to determine which applicants’ sites are suitable to move on in the application process.

Applicants must show that they have the intention and the means to establish a working wind turbine at the location if the anemometer shows the site has sufficient wind capacity.

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