PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — For many people in the city area, the wind turbine project at the University of Maine at Presque Isle seemed to go pretty quickly. One day, they heard news that UMPI would build the windmill, a few months later the equipment was hauled onto campus, and in a few more months the massive turbine was spinning.
But there was much more to the process than that, all of which was preserved on film by UMPI. Now the university will share that footage with the public in a documentary premiering on Thursday evening.
The official film premiere of “Wind 101: The University of Maine at Presque Isle Builds a Wind Turbine,” will be held 5-6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, at the Braden Theater.
The half-hour-long, high-definition film, directed by local videographer and filmmaker Frank Grant and narrated by longtime theater professor Joseph Zubrick, follows the step-by-step process it took for UMPI to complete this major renewable energy project. The film shows the process from the first energy survey to the last windmill installation detail, together with the bumps encountered along the way.
The film also shows the work the university did to turn the project into an educational opportunity for its students and the community.
UMPI President Don Zillman said Tuesday that he has seen snippets of the film but will watch the entire premiere with the rest of the community.
“I think the film captures very nicely what we went through to make this happen,” said Zillman. “It was a great experience and I am looking forward to see it on the big screen.”
The night of the film premiere is an important anniversary for UMPI: On Nov. 19, 2008, construction work officially began on the university’s 600-kilowatt wind turbine, the first midsize wind turbine to be installed on a university campus in Maine.
The turbine is expected to produce about 1 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year and save the institution more than $100,000 annually in electricity charges. It is expected to save an estimated 572 tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere each year, or the equivalent of removing 123 cars from the road.
Campus officials said that on many days the wind turbine has generated enough electricity to supply all of the university’s energy needs.
The wind is expected to blow harder and more consistently during the winter months, and officials are waiting to see how the turbine performs in its first year.
The university announced plans to move forward on a wind turbine project in May 2007. The college received support from the Maine Army National Guard, which made improvements to the road leading to the turbine site. Construction work began in November 2008. In late February 2009, the tower parts, which were manu-factured in North Dakota, began arriving. In April, the blades, hub and nacelle — manufactured in India — were delivered, and in just four days, the turbine was completely assembled. It began spinning in mid-May.
Funding for the project came from campus reserves built up through more than 20 years. The university received a $50,000 Voluntary Renewable Resources Fund grant from the Maine Public Utilities Commission to go toward the project. The college also received assistance from the Rebuild America grant program through Ef-ficiency Maine.
The film features footage that takes the viewer into the classroom, out into the field, and up to the top of the wind turbine.
Zillman said Tuesday that officials did not immediately know they wanted to make a video about the process, but felt it was necessary to film as many of the events as possible.
“We knew that if we did not have footage of certain events, like the equipment being delivered and the parts going up, we would be kicking ourselves,” he said. “So we just started filming things.”
After the premiere, the film will be shown to students and staff at UMPI. After that, Zillman said the campus is interested in distributing a DVD to a wider audience.
There are only 144 seats in the theater and ticket sales are on a first-come, first-served basis. After the film, there will be a short question-and-answer session with filmmakers and university officials involved in the project.
Tickets are $10 each and are available at Morning Star Art and Framing on Main Street or at the UMPI Conferences and Special Programs Office in the Campus Center.
For information, call 768-9452 or visit www.umpi.edu/wind.