A New Hampshire company wants to introduce a new era of wind technology to the United States and it wants to showcase that technology here in West Warwick.
Representatives from Portsmouth Power Corporation made a presentation to the town council and town residents last night to introduce the principles of the project.
The company would like to build three module power towers on Arctic Hill. The company is proposing putting one tower near the tennis courts and two towers at the rear of the baseball field behind the high school. The company would donate the tower closest to the school to the town and would own the other two.
Portsmouth Power Company is a leading edge company focused on generating power and deriving income from natural resources, according to Jess Lowther of Portsmouth Power. He said the company was formed in order to harness the technical development by its Belgium partner.
The technology is based on Bernoulli’s principles of air compression and velocity. The module towers have a wind amplification that is 60 percent greater then conventional wind towers, he said. The area required for the tower is 8 square feet versus the 86 square feet required by a conventional tower. The turbine towers require 6 feet in diameter compared to the 200 to 300 feet required by the conventional wind tower. There are fewer moving parts which require less maintenance, create fewer breakdowns, and less down time, he said.
“It’s one of the most efficient designs possible,” said Lowther.
The towers have a low environmental impact, according to Lowther. He said the noise of the tower is equal to conversational levels, there are no obvious propellers, no television or radio interference because of electromagnetism and radar is used to halt the turbines if birds or bats approach them.
Lowther said the benefits include higher efficiency, clean electricity output, and more cost efficiency.
The goals of the project are to generate enough power from one of the towers to provide electricity for the middle school, high school, ice rink and civic center.
Karen Pare is the chief operating officer for Portsmouth Power Corporation and has ties here in West Warwick. She is a town resident, a West Warwick High School graduate and her father owns Phil Pare & Sons, located in town. Pare said she chose West Warwick as one of the first sites in the United States because it is in her back yard.
She said she wouldn’t propose a deal that wouldn’t work to people that she has to see face-to-face every day.
Only one of the proposed towers exists in the world. It is in Belgium. The company in Belgium invested $2.5 million into the tower and broke even on the project within three years, Pare said.
A few residents voiced their concerns regarding the size of the towers, location, the cost to the town, and whether or not the technology would work.
“Don’t discount the idea because it is the first one,” said Council President Edward A. Giroux (D-Ward 1). He said the towers cost $1 million apiece and he finds it hard to believe a company would be willing to throw away $3 million on an investment that wouldn’t work.
“I see it as a very exciting project,” he said. “I won’t discourage it because we are the first.”
Councilman Angelo A. Padula Jr. (D-Ward 1) said there is no out-of-pocket cost to the town and Portsmouth Power is responsible for the maintenance of the town’s tower for 99 years.
Andrew Dzykewicz, commissioner of the Office of Energy Resource for the state, said his office would assist the town with the financial and technological due diligence required for the project. He said he was impressed with Portsmouth Power because they are not asking for money or financial assistance with the project.
“I have skepticisms myself because it is new technology,” he said. “But they are willing to do the pilot program at their own cost. You can’t lose.”
Town Manager Wolfgang Bauer and Giroux said there isn’t a “done deal” with Portsmouth Power. Last night’s meeting was only the first step in a process that would include the planning board, zoning board and town council.
Giroux said he would expect to see the project on the council agenda at the June 19 town council meeting.
Pare said the company would like to have the towers up and running by the end of the year.
By Tracy Proul
1 June 2007
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