a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Green energy sprouts on farmette

EIGHTY FOUR, Pa. – James Benney installed his first wind turbine to reduce the electricity bills at his farmette, and already, his neighbor plans to copy the idea.

Benney’s is among few property owners in Washington County, Pa. to turn to green energy. The 45-foot-tall stainless-steel pole holding his turbine comes with a reverse meter to measure the amount of power it sends into the electric grid to calculate how much money will come off his bill from Allegheny Energy.

The time is overdue for America to reduce is dependency on coal and “foreign oil,” said Benney, 59, a psychiatric nurse at Washington Hospital. “I’ve always believed in doing things to help the Earth, rather than hurt it.”

This turbine in Nottingham Township, Pa., is much smaller than those along the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Somerset County. The six turbines at the Somerset Wind Energy Center are the size of a pickup truck.

Wind energy is making a major comeback, given the number of tractor-trailer trucks hauling just one giant turbine blade that can be seen on any given day traveling Interstate 70 in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Benney’s cost nearly $15,000, but he will be reimbursed 30 percent of the money under President Barack Obama’s green energy stimulus plan. And the savings on his utility bills over the next seven years will cover the remainder of the cost of the turbine he purchased from Wind Turbines of Ohio.

This signifies the largest push for renewable energy since 1979, when a similar initiative was put together by President Jimmie Carter during an energy crisis, Reason magazine reports in its June issue. Carter invested billions in an energy program that also was designed to wean America off oil from the Middle East.

Since then, the amount of money Americans have spent on foreign oil has resulted in the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the world.

Obama’s stimulus plan will direct $43 billion toward energy projects, including those designed to build a smarter power grid. This will involve better metering and use of the grid during off-peak hours. Companies that make turbines or better batteries will qualify for a 30-percent investment tax credit.

Wind turbines do not emit carbon or greenhouse gases or require any energy. But they do kill birds, Reason reminds its readers.

Some folks just don’t like to look at them in more populated areas, either. About 8 miles away from Benney’s house, supervisors in North Strabane Township have stalled approval of a residential wind turbine for more than a year.


Mike Jones said...


Are you saying that each turbine near the Turnpike in Somerset County is the size of a pickup? Because each fan blade is about the size of a bus.

These residential turbines are a great idea. It'll be interesting to see how they help local farmers pumping electricity into the grid.

Scott Beveridge said...


Ellipses said...

Check out the jellyfish turbine... you can google that phrase for some relevant results. It's a pretty neato idea.

Scott Beveridge said...

That's an interesting contraption.