Chester man installs own windmill

Posted Sept. 27, 2009, at 9:16 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:12 p.m.

CHESTER, Maine — Joseph Nesin looks forward to 30 years of free electricity.

A 50-year-old veterinarian and ardent environmentalist, Nesin installed a Bergey XL 10-kilowatt windmill to power his office and adjoining farmhouse, sitting the three-blade turbine atop a 140-foot steel tower on his Pea Ridge Road property earlier this month, he said.

“It’s a way of producing electricity cleanly. That was my motivation,” Nesin said Saturday. “My motivation was to get power with the least environmental impact possible.”

His goal won’t come cheaply or immediately. Counting all expenses, the windmill cost Nesin about $60,000 and will take about 10 years to pay back the investment, Nesin said.

But the turbine has a 40-year, maintenance-free life span. As long as he balances his electricity needs against available winds, it should generate enough to power his home and business year-round, even during those wind-free summer days, he said.

“It looks like it’s going to be an even break,” Nesin said. “If I don’t get enough power from it, Bangor Hydro will still supply me. I am still hooked in with them.”

As part of his deal with Bangor Hydro-Electric Co., electricity the windmill generates and he doesn’t use will go back to the utility and be sold on the New England power grid. Bangor Hydro will reimburse him for electricity it gets from his turbine with electricity whenever he requests it, Nesin said.

Nesin’s investment puts him among a small but growing number of Lincoln Lakes region residents and businesses that use small or single-dwelling wind turbines to answer their electricity needs. Nesin knows three other addresses, including an Enfield greenhouse, with similar windmills.

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Nesin believes he might get better performance from his windmill because the other, 2.5-kilowatt turbines are set on 50-foot towers and are not as likely to catch wind consistently, he said.

His closest friend, Passadumkeag Volunteer Fire Chief Brent Faloon, said he wasn’t at all surprised to get a telephone call earlier this month from Nesin inviting Faloon over to check out his latest envirotoy. Nesin already has a hybrid Honda Civic in his garage and composting toilets in his home, Faloon said.

“Joe is a very crunchy guy, as in granola,” said Faloon, who has been pals with Nesin since they were in the fourth grade in Howland. “He is a bleeding-heart liberal, and I tend to stand just to the right of Attila the Hun, so it’s always interesting to be around Joe.”

Nesin learned his environmentalism from his father, the late Dr. Bourcard Nesin. The elder Nesin practiced medicine for many years in Howland and was known, his son said, for his environmental preservation efforts — including the occasional denunciation of foresters who overcut their lands.

“My father taught me that what we are given on this earth is not ours to take but ours to take care of. It’s our responsibility to pass it on a little bit better than we found it,” said Nesin, whose brother Noah also practices medicine, as the medical director at Health Access Network in Lincoln.

Joseph Nesin has continued his father’s practice of buying land in Chester and leaving it undeveloped. He has about 1,800 acres, he said.

Not everybody in the region admires such practices, Nesin said, but town residents seem to appreciate his environmentalism. Nesin might be one of the more crucial residents of Chester, given this Penobscot County town’s population of about 500 residents according to the last census.

With 5,000 client records and 12,000 to 13,000 pet patients at his 20-year practice, Nesin is one of only two veterinarians practicing in the Lincoln Lakes and Katahdin regions. Veterinarian Dr. Donald J. Volk of Orono is the other. He operates a part-time clinic and office in Medway.

Nesin is also Chester’s first selectman, moving up from second selectman last year, he said, because nobody was really interested in running against him for the Board of Selectmen. Nor, when they see its results, do they disagree with his environmentalism, he said.

“I think when they get to actually see what I am doing, they don’t mind it, because they are seeing the deer come back to lands that they left, and the trout come back to the waters, because nobody’s in there clear-cutting anymore,” Nesin said.

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