Wind power in New England: Is it a good renovation option?

For a green home renovation in New England, wind power looks like a good option. But it's not easy to find out if that's true.

Joanne Ciccarello/Staff/The Christian Science Monitor
Bob Loebelenz of Dover, Mass., has generated controversy and admiration for the wind turbine located on his farm. The tower provides most of the electricity for his house and barn.

The foam insulators are still going great guns – spray guns, that is – at Sheep Dog Hollow, our green renovation experiment.

And as I mentioned in my most recent post, it’s a sign that the renovation is winding down. Once the insulation is done, then it’s on to sheet-rocking, painting, trimming, and getting all of the bathroom, kitchen, and lighting fixtures installed.

It’s almost done!

OK, OK, maybe may not quite “almost done” but we’re further along than I expected. So, I’m looking to the future – the electrical future.

Since we’ve installed a geothermal system, we plan on using it for a year or so to get a sense of how many kilowatts we’ll use on a regular basis. Then we’ll decide on what kind of green supplemental electrical power we’ll use.

I’ve looked into solar as a viable alternative and am now exploring wind.

What has become quite evident is that anyone serious about wind in New England needs to be a self-starter – more so than if one lived in, say, Iowa or Texas.
That’s because wind energy and its state of development is dependent, like almost every other green technology, on the weather, geography, and mindset of a region.

In places with abundant breezes and an experimental mindset – say, California – wind has been a viable option for the past few decades. This Department of Energy website, Wind Powering America, has an informative time-elapse map that shows where and when wind began generating noticeable amounts of electricity in the past decade.

It took me a while to figure the site out, but click on this link and patiently wait for the animation to go through a 10-year cycle, and you’ll see where wind has taken wing, as it were.

Many of those states have fairly sophisticated wind energy programs, including university-based systems to rent out anemometers, which are used to estimate wind speeds.

An anemometer, by the way, is a device that measures wind speed and its potential to turn that energy into power. It is crucial to determining whether your property is appropriate for wind power.

Unfortunately, Connecticut, a rather more conservative clime where Sheep Dog Hollow resides, is not one the states that offer a state-of-the-art anemometer loan program to help homeowners understand if they could benefit from wind power.

When I Googled “windpower New England” I came across several companies, but each one I called had the same advice: Get ready to investigate and then, do battle.

What that entails will be the subject of my next blog post.


Alexandra Marks blogs twice a week about her green and budget-friendly restoration of a 1902 farmhouse in Connecticut. Click here to find all her blog posts and articles.

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