Elaine Meinel Supkis
The other day, I visited a local business, Jiminy Peak. This is an upscale ski resort run by an old family friend of my husband who began skiing there 45 years ago when it was very small. The owners of this resort are environmentalists who try to minimize their carbon foot print as well as design slopes and care for the water sources so that there is minimum impact on nature. They recently installed a wind mill on top of the mountain. It is very lovely, I think. But then, I am fond of such mega-structures like the Eiffel Tower, too. Also, a company proposes a new ocean wave energy system.
The Jiminy Peak Resort Management and Employees are committed to being responsible stewards of Massachusetts' natural resources. Massachusetts' beauty and healthfulness are an integral part of our business. We live here, and working to maintain it comes naturally.
Jiminy's policy of environmental awareness is seen in all our activities. We seek to raise the environmental awareness of guests and employees, and to broaden their knowledge and appreciation through educational programs along with our active and passive use of the land for year-round recreation.
Our development and maintenance programs are guided by principles of land and energy conservation, by forest and wildlife habitat preservation, and by maintaining Massachusetts' water quality and aesthetic beauty.
Jiminy Peak strongly believes in preserving the Earth for future generations. We are showing our commitment by being the first Mountain Resort in North America to install a wind turbine in order to generate clean, natural energy. Together we can shape a sustainable community for the future.
I am a tad biased here. Brian Fairbanks is a generous and kind man who is also loves art and science. His family has invented ski systems and equipment, for example. He likes to organize information with charts and graphs and projections and is a realist. Once, when we had a too-warm winter, he complained to me, 'Isn't there any way to tell El Nino to go home and let La Nina come back?' But then, none of us can tell the Weather what to do. It is pretty elemental.
When Brian proposed putting a windmill on top of Jiminy Peak, he worried about opposition. I know what he is worried about. Previous proposals to install these systems have been defeated by people who want unblemished vistas to sit and enjoy while they consume vast quantities of energy produced by destroying the Appalachians or polluting the lands around oil rigs. This pollution is 'invisible' because of distance, of course. A lot of pollution is parked far away like in China, so we can enjoy the Garden of Eden. But few of the anti-wind mill people live in tents and use wood stoves to heat their homes or don't use any electricity like I did for ten years! No, this is a classic, 'Have your cake and eat it too' type of reflexive thinking.
So Brian had to move very cautiously to get permission to install this sensible system. It was either that or close shop. Running his ski resort is very energy intensive. And he believes in the Hubbert Oil Peak just as I have for much of my life and we discussed this long, long ago. So when he had the financing, he moved quickly to set up his systems.
Here are some of the basic statistics:
It is a 1.5MW wind turbine capable of producing up to 2,000 H.P. for our snowmaking plant.
A 1.5MW wind turbine will provide approximately 33% of the electrical demands of Jiminy Peak annually. During the winter months when the wind resource is the strongest it may provide as much as half of our electrical demand.
The turbine will generate approximately 4,600,000 kWh and Jiminy Peak consumes approximately 7,500,000 kWh a year.
The wind turbine will sit atop a 253 ft tower.
The nacelle that sits on top of the structure and houses the shaft for the blades, the gearbox and the generator is approximately 13 ft wide and 13 ft tall and 26 ft long.
Each of the 3 blades is approximately 123ft, therefore to the tip of the blade the entire structure is 386 feet tall.
The blades will turn a maximum of 22 RPM even in high wind conditions.
Alas, I didn't have a camera when the wind mill was erected. So I had to wait until this week to take pictures. It is a stunning structure! When I first saw it, I was listening to Schubert's Unfinished Symphony on public radio. I stopped the car and gave this technological achievement a good look. Like the Statue of Liberty or the Eiffel Tower, like the Golden Gate Bridge or the Brooklyn Bridge or the Hoover Dam, it soars to the heavens. It is one of humanity's successes. Engineering is not ugly, it can be quite splendid. And we should appreciate it as an esthetic positive. Compared to a power plant burning coal, this energy producing system is nearly silent, shapely and an addition to the landscape, not a smoking, roaring mess with endless trains loudly discharging their cargo.
Indeed, I would happily put one on top of my own mountain. First of all, it would attract all the lightning bolts that try to hit me! This is a huge plus. But realistically, ALL the communities in these here mountains MUST have these systems and as soon as humanly possible! We have NO CHOICE or we can roll back our civilization to the level I lived at for ten years in a tent. Anyone who thinks the choice is 'no windmills versus windmills' is indulging in wishful thinking. If they propose a solar system, this is OK with me but I see only a very, very tiny handful of people here doing this! It seems to me the desire is for the present status quo. Which is, of course, doomed.
I am so very pleased that Brian can see ahead so clearly!
Now for a little tour of Jiminy Peak. I really like the set up, the Fairbanks family has good taste and the architecture is friendly, easy to use and fun to look at.
This is the view from Rt 43 in Mass. The Hancock town hall sits next to the old grave yard. And if we look around the corner of the building, we can see this huge windmill and note how big it is compared to the flag pole. Beyond this point is a river and then dense forest. So this is the closest one can get without hiking and boating, from the west.
This is the view from a mountain that is to the north of the resort. Note how the ski slopes are not huge gashes but are artfully laid out and surrounded by good forest. The windmill is quite visible but it doesn't loom over the landscape. Since it is white, it looks elegant, not ugly. Indeed, if I didn't use a good camera with a powerful lens, it would be nearly invisible.
Here is the telephoto shot, still, the windmill is dwarfed by its setting.
This is the Jiminy Peak Moose mascot.
Here, in the 'village' at the base of the mountain is the Energy Center where visitors can learn all about wind energy and other vital ecological matters. I am a big believer in rewarding businesses who try hard to do the right thing. And I have been a big supporter of wind energy since the early 1970's.
Back and forth, back and forth. That's the idea behind WaveRoller.
The company, based in Espoo, Finland, says it has devised a way to generate electricity from waves without buoys or other floating devices, the mainstay of other wave power companies.
Instead, the company wants to plant oscillating fiberglass/steel plates on the sea bed. Waves rolling in push over the plates, which rebound after the wave passes to only be knocked down by another wave. The back-and-forth motion of the plates drives a piston and creates hydraulic pressure. The pressure ultimately gets fed to a turbine to generate electricity.
Human ingenuity can solve many problems. Of course, one of the biggest problems that can't be solved is our limitless need to live an easy life. When I was a child living in Death Valley, for example, few people had air conditioners. We used 'swamp boxes' which were actually quite good in the 0% humidity. When my granddaddy crossed Death Valley on a dare in one of California's first automobiles over 100 years ago, he had no air conditioners, no heaters, nothing in his primitive vehicle. When my great granddaddy wrote in the Cavalry across the Wild West, he lived out in the open, got saddle sores and my great grandmother lived in an adobe house and did all her cooking outside in a pavilion due to the desert heat! And she walked about Old Tucson using an umbrella to keep the sun off. And did this while wearing corsets!
The desire for a temperate environment at all times is very energy-intensive. On top of this, we want odd environments, not merely temperate. This is why the Arabs have built a huge ski resort in one of the hottest deserts on earth. Or huge stadiums in the US where games can be played in summer on an air conditioned field. If we have more energy or if it is cheap, we use it for the most bizarre purposes. This process is endless and open-ended. Like with debt creation, its only limit is infinity or when the system crashes.
This utilization of wave energy is quite smart. There are some problems, all of them being produced by Mother Nature. Namely, tiny sea creatures view these things as wonderful places to live. So very swiftly, living things will totally encrust these wave energy machines. Keeping them clean will be a huge challenge. All ships have to deal with this. Whales have to deal with this. The power plants that are feeding energy to the Wild West such as Hoover Dam, has to constantly battle tiny water creatures who love to grow in the plumbing systems, for example.
All energy systems have downsides. Some are worse than others. This wave energy system is pretty much benign compared to say, nuclear power or damming rivers. I hope this is developed further.