BERLIN – A towering white wind turbine could be the next step in Berlin’s efforts to go green.
Town officials are exploring the idea of installing a wind turbine at the electric substation on Schoolfield Street in response to a request from electrical engineer Doug Richards. Council members instructed town staff members to approach residents near the substation about the proposal.
“I’d like to know what the neighbors think about looking at something like this,” said Councilman Dean Burrell.
Richards, who has worked with Berlin staff members on other electric projects, approached the council Monday about installing a 50-kilowatt wind turbine as a pilot project. The turbine’s pole would be 65 feet tall and its wingspan would be 40 feet. Unlike most turbines, the one Richards has proposed would use a direct current generator.
“It would be the first of its kind in this capacity ever installed,” he said.
Most wind turbines, he explained, function with a gear box. The one he has designed, however, is direct drive, and no gears are involved. He believes that will make the turbine more efficient than more traditional ones.
“You have all those moving parts that swing in and out,” he said. “All that mechanical action tends to break down in strong winds.”
The project, which is estimated to cost $125,000, would be funded by Richards. The town of Berlin, he said, would simply need to provide the space at the substation and the connection from the building to the turbine itself.
Town Administrator Tony Carson said the cost to the town would be about $6,000 a year. That, however, is expected to be recouped in energy savings.
“It’s not going to be a huge money maker,” Carson said, adding that it would instead save the town energy costs and would help it remain an environmental leader.
Burrell and Councilman Elroy Brittingham said they were concerned about the noise the turbine would create. Richards assured them the noise would be minimal.
“Noise usually becomes a problem when you get above 200 kilowatts,” Richards said. “Wind turbines are inherently quiet.”
Electric Utility Director Tim Lawrence said part of the reason the substation had been selected as the potential site of the turbine was because it was relatively secluded.
“The closest house is over 300 feet away,” he said.
The council agreed to potentially move ahead with the project after area citizens are informed and their concerns addressed.
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