SOUTHWEST HARBOR, Maine — Even before the speeches were done Friday afternoon, the blades on the new wind turbine were turning and providing electrical power for two homes on the U.S. Coast Guard base.
The Coast Guard installed the 2.4-kilowatt turbine Friday as part of a larger “green energy” effort at the Southwest Harbor base that includes solar energy and renewable heat sources. It is part of the Coast Guard’s efforts toward a “net zero” home concept for the base housing there, according to Capt. James McPherson, the sector chief for Coast Guard Sector Northern New England.
“These are modest steps — modest steps that are going to make a difference in the long run,” McPherson told a contingent of Coast Guard personnel during the brief ceremony Friday.
The wind turbine sits atop a 70-foot tower at the entrance to the base housing area in Southwest Harbor and will provide electrical power directly to a duplex housing unit nearby.
Although they worked with crews from All Season Home Improvement in Augusta on the project, the Coast Guard also used the skills and expertise of the servicemen and women on the base.
Chief Christopher Cooper, who is part of the Coast Guard Electronics Support Detachment, worked on the development of the turbine project and also lives in one of the duplex units that will be powered by the new unit with his wife and four young children. He said he was glad to have the opportunity to work on the project to bring wind energy to the base housing and to be living in the Coast Guard’s first wind-powered home.
“It’s neat to be part of that history,” he said. “This is a step in the right direction. It’s good for the environment; it’s good for the state; it’s good for the Coast Guard; and it’s good for the nation.”
The wind turbine is part of a larger renewable energy push for the Coast Guard in Southwest Harbor, according to Lt. Ashley Thomas, the sector field officer for the base. In October, the base will begin renovations to the 10 duplex units in base housing in an effort to upgrade systems and, particularly, to improve insulation.
In addition, next door to the wind-powered duplex, the Coast Guard has installed a pellet boiler that provides heat and domestic hot water for the two homes in that unit, replacing an oil-fired boiler that used about 1,900 gallons of oil a year. Solar panels provide electricity and also charge an array of batteries for backup power, and solar thermal tubes provide up to 80 additional gallons of hot water for those homes.
“We’re trying to look at all the renewable-energy options we can,” Thomas said.
Although this effort has been focused on the Coast Guard’s base housing area, Thomas said crews also have done some projects at the Coast Guard station. Several offices are considered “green offices” using panels, and a small prototype wind turbine was tested for a while.
The Coast Guard also is considering using the wind power technology at other base housing units in Maine and at other sites around the country.
“We’re setting an example for the Coast Guard and for the country,” Thomas said.