Peaks Island selected for state-sponsored wind test program

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PORTLAND — The Peaks Island wind project was one of six selected to receive free wind measuring equipment from the state.

But before the island can begin measuring wind speeds in Trott-Littlejohn Park, it must first raise enough money to insure the equipment, which includes wind anemometers mounted on a 100-foot tower.

The state wind program, administered by Efficiency Maine – the Public Utilities Commission’s conservation arm, lends equipment and pays for installation and removal, an estimated value of $10,500.

Michael Barden, Efficiency Maine’s grant coordinator, said fewer than a dozen communities applied for the wind testing program, which includes wind anemometers, 100-foot tall towers and data analysis by the University of Maine Orono.

Communities were scored based on the technical merits, resources and society benefits. Scoring well in each category, the Peaks Island project came in second behind Old Orchard Beach’s application. South Portland’s application, however, just missed the cut.

Sam Saltonstall, the leader of the Peaks Environmental Action Committee, said he was glad the wind project – in the works since the spring – can now move forward.

“We are pleased that we will have a chance to determine whether or not the wind resource on Peaks is sufficient for a small wind project,” Saltonstall said.

The project received its final approval from the city in September, but was delayed when UMO received all six wind anemometers bought with $200,000 in federal stimulus money. PEAT had originally planned to partner with Unity College to have everything up running by November, but the college did not receive any of the new wind meters.

The test site will be Trott-Littlejohn Park, four acres of city-owned land that is mostly an open field bordered by woods and wetlands with recreational paths for hiking and cross-country skiing.

But before the equipment can be installed, PEAT must raise money to buy property insurance.

Saltonstall said the wind measuring project has already received a $250 grant from the Island Institute to put towards one year of property insurance for the equipment. PEAT needs to quickly raise the remaining $500 to cover the $750 premium.

“After the holidays (we) will be making an appeal to islanders and others who might support this effort,” Saltonstall said in an email. “(Donations) are not tax deductible, because we are still in the process of acquiring our (non-profit) status.”

Once installed, wind data will be recorded for at least a year and be analyzed by UMO researchers.

Donations may be sent to: PEAT (Peaks Environmental Action Team), 25 Crescent Ave., Peaks Island, ME 04108.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or [email protected]