SAD 1 awaits wind review

14 years ago

SAD 1 awaits wind review

By Scott Mitchell Johnson
Staff Writer

    PRESQUE ISLE – It’s been six months since two meteorological or “met” towers were installed in SAD 1, and now district officials are beginning to review rough data to see how the wind power initiative is progressing. 

    At last Wednesday night’s board meeting, Larry Fox, wind power project coordinator for SAD 1, gave what he called a “desk review” of recently collected data.
    “I took about six weeks of data from the Presque Isle Middle School tower and the same six weeks from the Mapleton Elementary School tower and sat them side by side – about 44 days’ worth of data – and did a very rough desk analysis to see what I could observe without having to run the data through a sophisticated software program.”
    Fox said the sample was taken from April 22-June 30.
    “I then took 10 days from that period … three days each in April and May and four days in June,” he said. “We’re collecting data from 15 different levels on those towers, 24/7, 10 times every hour, so we literally have tens of thousands of pieces of data that will be analyzed eventually in a software program which is part of the engineering specs.
    “Data was taken from the highest instrument at both sites; roughly 140 feet at the middle school and 190 feet at Mapleton,” said Fox. “At the middle school for just those 44 days, the average wind speed was about 10.6 mph and in Mapleton it was 11.5 mph. I would have thought that the middle school would have been a stronger wind resource than the Mapleton site, but at least for those particular dates at that particular elevation, I found that – if anything – Mapleton has a bit stronger wind resource. It isn’t significant … it’s probably a 10 percent or so difference, but that’s something that I was surprised to see.”
    Fox said the average wind speed at the middle school exceeded that of Mapleton on only two of the 44 days.
    “Mapleton wind speed exceeded that at the middle school on 18 of the 44 days,” he said. “The other days it was very close; many days it was almost identical.”
    Another statistic shared was that the highest average daily wind speed recorded at both sites is estimated at 20.5 mph.
    “That’s an average daily wind speed,” Fox said of the April 30 reading. “We may have had 30 mph winds that day and 10 mph winds in the evening, so the average for the day was about 20.5 mph. That’s the strongest wind date of those 44 days. We probably did have stronger wind days back in the January-February period because the winds tend to be stronger in the winter and fall than they do now.
    “Doing a side-by-side comparison, you’ll see that on a particular day, if it was windier in the morning and then the wind tapered off at midday and then picked up again in the afternoon, you’ll see that correlation at both sites,” he said. “The two sites correlate very well in that way.”
    Fox has spoken with Andy Perkins, president of Perkins Engineering, Inc. of Orono, who was hired as the project consultant.
    “He’s in the process of finding an engineering firm that will actually do the data analysis for us,” he said. “They will take all of the data and run it through a very sophisticated software program and help determine if money can be saved by erecting wind turbines.”
    Fox said by late August the district should have some accurate preliminary wind data to review.
    “I think we’re making very good progress and I’m looking forward to seeing the engineer’s results,” he said.
    SAD 1 is the first school system in Maine to pursue wind power as an energy source in its public schools.