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The installation was a tedious process involving building roads, a foundation, and hauling many heavy components.  (Source: Jiminy Peak)

The completed 1.5 MW turbine stands taller than the Statue of Liberty and produces enough excess electricity to power 613 homes, making the resort $161,000 a year.  (Source: Jiminy Peak)
"The answer my friends, is blowing in the wind..."

Many small business owners have been curious at the latest alternative energy developments.  From geothermal breakthroughs to solar growth, many wonder -- could the latest green energy technologies work for their business?  Many fear that adoption would never turn a savings and just not be worth it.

However, when it comes to wind power, one inspirational story that small business owners can take note of is the successful deployment of a wind power solution to the Jiminy Peak resort.  The peak, a mountain resort in western Massachusetts, announced this week the one-year anniversary of the connection of its new 1.5 megawatt GE wind turbine to the grid.

The resort is thought to be the first privately held company to have installed a megawatt-class turbine.  It nicknamed its turbine
Zephyr, after the Greek god of wind.  Zephyr stands 253-ft. tall, with three 123-ft. blades, making the windmill taller than the Statue of Liberty.  The new turbine generates 4.6 million kWh (kilowatt hours) of energy, enough to power all the appliances in 613 houses.

In the winter, when the mountain winds blow the hardest, the production peaks.  This is perfect, because the resort sees its most business in winter months for ski season.  Ski season brings high energy demands due to its snowmaking equipment. 

The installation process was a bit tedious -- it began in
the fall of 2006 and required roads to be installed to reach the desired elevation.  Roads were built on existing ski paths.  Then the foundation was put in.  The following spring, parts began to arrive -- some of them jumbo-sized.  One part of the base weighed in at 64-tons and required four bulldozers to push to the top.  Installation was set back by heavy rains, logistical challenges, and ironically, high winds.

One big hassle was transporting the turbine rotors according to the resort's spokesperson.  They say the effort "
Required a carefully choreographed effort between New York and Massachusetts power companies, safety officials, police departments and state troopers in two states, and the patience of motorists."

However, at long last the turbine was complete and ready to generate power.  It can produce power in winds from 6 to 55 MPH.  The blade speed is artificially controlled not to exceed 22 RPM to prevent damage in high winds.  The amount of power generate is not based on the wind speed, as most thing, but rather on the diameter of the rotors.  In the gearbox the mechanical engine is converted to
13,800 volts and then transported down the mountain in 4,000 feet of buried cables.

After all the trouble, the economics for the resort are looking good, though.  The turbine cost $3.9M USD, but a
Massachusetts Technology Collaborative grant of $582,000 helped lessen the blow.  The resort will sell approximately $161,000 of electricity annually and receive a $46,000 tax credit annually.  It expects to thus be able to recoup the expenses in five or six years.  With most turbines having a lifetime of at least 20 years and many lasting far longer, the turbine could be a lucrative venture for the resort.




“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls
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