Sunday, August 2, 2009

Draft for ViewPoint Article

I enjoy thinking about energy efficiency and conservation.  I got interested while I was an electrical engineering student at UNH back in the 70s.  Between my junior and senior years, I wrote a proposal for and received funding to hire twelve of my fellow women engineering students to conduct energy audits at twelve NH colleges; members of a consortium of college plant managers.  We named the summer program “The Women in Engineering, Energy Management Project.”  The goal of the project was two-fold: 1.) Give women engineering students a summer engineering work experience, and 2.) Assist NH colleges in reducing energy consumption.  It was a great experience and measurably successful for the colleges.

Although I never actually worked in the energy industry, my inclination toward reducing power consumption was an important factor later in my career when I worked in notebook computer design for Wang Laboratories. I specialized in low-power circuit design and my team’s work led to a couple of design patents in that area. I know it sounds geeky…and it probably is, but I just love the challenge of doing more with less.

Last summer while visiting my brother in Hull, MA, I was awestruck by the sight of the Hull Wind I and Hull Wind II turbines.  My brother tells me that their home electric bill has been cut nearly in half.  Of course, Hull has a unique situation; ocean breezes and a municipal electric company make large turbine projects very cost effective.  Rindge does not have the same advantages, but is it possible that we could develop a project that would make economic sense and also help the environment?

Pat Barry, Rindge Selectman, told me about a potential wind project at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge.  I contacted FPU and, in response, Ken Clarke, an adjunct professor there, helped me with some basic facts and information about evaluating the potential for wind energy in Rindge.

One of the things that Ken educated me on was the necessity of Meteorological
wind towers (MET towers) for evaluating a potential site.  In the simplest terms, MET towers are very tall (more than 50 feet high) poles with wind measuring and communications equipment mounted at the top. I was shocked to learn that a MET tower and data measurement for a year can cost $20,000 per location!

By doing a little online research, I learned that Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts all have MET tower loan programs through their state colleges.  New Hampshire does not.

I took it upon myself to contact my alma mater, UNH, to see if there was any interest in starting a loan program in NH too.

Well, who should write me back, but Jacob Aho of New Ipswich, President and Founder of the UNH Energy Club, and a graduate student in Electrical Engineering whose thesis project is wind turbine control systems!

I am so excited to know that there are young engineers out there who plan to dedicate their careers to moving us toward energy independence!  Jacob and I have only been talking since April, but he has kindly offered to take time from his busy schedule to present a forum on wind energy, to be held Thursday at 6:30 P.M. at the Rindge Recreation Building.  Jacob also enlisted the support of Dr. Rob Wills, a Professional Engineer from Temple, and owner of, to help us understand options for homeowners too. 

Rindge may be a tough town to sell on conservation or alternative energy projects.  A motion on the ballot to establish an energy committee in Rindge was defeated last year.  I imagine that there was a perception that such a committee would impose new regulations and cost the taxpayers money.  I'm hoping that we can build grassroots support for a volunteer energy committee by offering great information and workshops that will help people reduce their energy bills.  In any case, I feel as though we need to try.

I work full-time, so I can’t make a big commitment of time. However, I don’t see that as a problem. I think, like so many other things, if everyone does just a little bit to help, the sum of those efforts can lead to wonderful things for the community.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Wind Power Forum

This is the press release I sent out to the Keene Sentinel and the Monadnock Ledger Transcript. There's going to be a "ViewPoint" section in the Ledger on the 11th about the forum speakers. I feel really great about seeing this get off the ground. It's so encouraging to know that other people are interested and willing to contribute to the effort to reduce our carbon footprint and reach toward energy independence.
I'm supposed to write 700 words for the "ViewPoint" article from the perspective of an average person looking at Wind Power and the larger issue of energy conservation. I plan to work on it this weekend and will probably post a draft here to get some feedback.

Wind Power...Is it in Rindge's future?

Please join your neighbors for refreshments and an open forum on Wind Power including a discussion of its possible future in Rindge.  On Thursday, August 13, at 6:30 PM, the Town of Rindge is sponsoring an informational session about Wind Power at the Town Recreation Building on Wellington Road. 
No doubt, you have heard about the wind farm in Lempster, NH and may be aware of wind projects springing up in towns, schools, and college campuses throughout the country.  Is Rindge a candidate for small or large-scale wind projects?
Two local wind enthusiasts have offered to share their experience and expertise with us:

Jacob Aho of New Ipswich is a graduate student and teaching assistant at the University of New Hampshire. Jake is researching wind turbine control systems for his master's thesis in electrical engineering. In addition, Jake is the founder and president of the UNH Energy Club.
Jacob will be giving a ‘Wind 101’ presentation that will cover the basic physics and principals of wind energy and how to test if your site is right for a wind turbine. Jacob will also be sharing his pictures, experiences and insights gained from his recent ‘energy road trip’ to the International Student Energy Summit in Calgary Canada, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and various wind parks across the US and Canada.

Dr. Robert Wills, a Professional Engineer (P.E.) from Temple, NH is the owner of, a company making wind anemometers, data logging systems and computer software to analyze the wind data using a PC.  Dr. Wills also worked on developing the communication system and inverters for Southwest Windpower’s Skystream turbine.
Dr. Wills is also a member of Temple’s Green Committee.
Dr. Wills has put together a great presentation about wind energy and being wary of residential wind turbine manufacturers who make false promises just to sell product. He also covers some basics on:
Wind Energy,
Estimating energy production, and
Deciding what turbine is right for your situation, and
Cost considerations.
We hope this meeting will be the first of many forums/workshops aimed at helping the people of Rindge learn from each other and from experts about conservation and alternative energy projects.  Many projects that save energy and dollars are accomplished for little to no cost and opportunities for weatherization grants exist at many levels. 
The Town also has a Kill-O-Watt meter that will be available for loan from the library so that residents can conduct their own preliminary electricity use energy audits assisted by this user-friendly tool.   
Please contact Pat Martin at or 899-2894 (evenings) or Carlotta Pini, Town Administrator, at 899-5181 x100 with questions or comments about the event.