A turbine with a view
The members of a Vermont family share their struggles and triumphs of owning their own wind turbine.
Friday, February 12, 2010 - 15:33
DID YOU KNOW: Wind turbines work in the same fashion as old school crank radios. (Photo: Caroline Cornell)
A tall, white pole stands stark against Vermont's blue sky. Propellers spin with the wind, while a star is shaped below by Christmas lights. Although prominent from the road, it seems to blend in effortlessly with its surroundings, giving an air similar to that of a silo. It was my first time seeing the Cornell family's wind turbine, as I left for college before it was constructed. I didn't hear it make a sound, and to me it was unique and beautiful. I have always wondered about why people chose to build personal wind turbines, so being curious, I asked the Cornells to explain their plans and motivations.
MNN: Why did you and your family choose to build a wind turbine?
Cornell family: There are four main reasons we decided to build the wind turbine. The first is that we have Geo Heat pumps (a geothermal heating system) that the turbine helps power. It is also a great educational and sales tool, as Derek [the father] is planning to start another business to help others build turbines as well as solar equipment. And, just as important, it is good for the environment and we love the way it looks and sounds!
What difficulties are associated with have a turbine?
Other than actually putting up the turbine, studying the wind resource to assess potential output and getting the permit from the town. Getting the permit actually proved to be not a problem due to where we live. We live on a farm and rural residential area, so zoning allows for windmills of any height. Others who live in different types of areas usually find it to be much harder getting this permit. We also had to apply for a permit from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and sign up with CVPS for the net metering program.
How long has it been up and running?
The turbine has been up for around four months, not including some time down due to a faulty part. The intensity of the wind has been difficult for maintaining the power to wind angle, but for the most part it has been running very well while having produced 3,200 kWh.
How did your neighbors react? (I know I love it!)
Derek sent letters out to all the adjoining landowners, as well as going door to door to every one before even applying. Everyone was accepting, and still are. Overall, we'd say we've gotten about 99 percent positive feedback, and many who live here are yet to see or notice it!
Was it worth it?
Wind power works with the right equipment and the right resources. The upfront costs can be expensive and the payback a long time, but we definitely think it was well worth it! We are doing a little part to make the world a tiny bit better.
The view from the top of the turbine.
Photos: Caroline Cornell
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