Proof-of-Concept Micro Wind at Cummington’s Old Creamery Grocery
Micro wind installations—are they feasible in Western Massachusetts? Susan Timberlake, the force behind Cummington Wind, LLC, aims to prove the skeptics wrong with a unique proof-of-concept installation at the Old Creamery Grocery, a popular hilltown destination.
The Old Creamery, in conjunction with Cummington Wind, will switch on the newly installed small (1 KW) Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT) at a noontime ceremony on Saturday. The store is located on Rt. 9, about 20 miles west of Northampton.
Succesfull micro wind installations are currently hard to come by, says Timberlake. “There’s a perception that micro systems can’t work—but previous attempts have been based upon bad designs, poorly-envisioned sitings, and faulty assumptions. Everybody is treating small wind like big wind. They are so different.”
In fact, Commonwealth Wind, a state agency, is suspending its Micro Wind Initiative in order to solicit input on changes needed to make the incentive program work.
In part because of the lack of state-level incentives for installations of this size, the Cummington proof-of-concept project will produce electricity off the grid.
“There are no Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), no attachment to the grid, and no utilities involved,” said Timberlake. “By design, our system must be be simple, installable, cheap, and for now, independently implemented.”
The installation is allowed under local zoning and permitting regulations because of its size (30 inch diameter) and capacity (1 KW), said Timberlake. “The wiring inspector in Cummington had many years of DC (direct current) experience in the Navy, so he knew what he was looking at, and was able to properly review and approve the project.”
Cummington Wind, LLC, a volunteer coalition, was formed in 2007, and has been supported by contributions made by individuals and small companies. The project’s success will be important in demonstrating the feasibility of small-scale wind, which will be important if wind turbines are to be manufactured in Massachusetts, said Timberlake. “The Chinese and others are ahead of the USA already,” she said. “Finland also has some great designs. In San Diego, a there’s a small global company called HelixWind which just landed $1 million in financing. PacWind in California [which launched the first Vertical Access Wind Turbine, or VAWT, in 2006], has been sold 3 or 4 times, and parts are no longer available for their small turbines.”
Timberlake cited the work of many volunteers, including Amy Pulley and Alice Cozzolino, co-owners of the Creamery. “They emptied an apartment upstairs and created a sustainability room and library for the use of the community. My cousin Ralph Timberlake, a cabinet maker, created all of the furniture in the library out of a single tree he cut, planed and dried on his land in Plainfield. The bag-sew project works there as well, to replace paper and plastic bag use at local stores.”
The Old Creamery Grocery is hoping to reincorporate as a cooperative business. “They stock with local produce and everything local they can get,” said Timberlake. “They are the perfect partner for our proof-of-concept micro wind installation.”
April 24th 12 noon to 1 pm.
The Old Creamery
445 Berkshire Trail (Route 9)
Cummington, MA 01026