Wind Feasibility Study - Haines, Alaska
We were invited to participate in the Wind Feasibility meeting in Haines, Alaska August 2, 2012. The purpose of the meeting was to gauge the community’s interest in studying the wind energy possibilities for Haines. It was an interesting meeting hearing both cases for and against wind energy. The meeting was well attended by a wide range of people. One vocal opponent expressed the concept of “firm” power - that is power that is always readily available and summarily dismissed anyone’s ideas on wind power since it did not meet his concept of “firm” power. The manager of the local power company came to explain the challenges with integrating power from various sources (Haines already gets power from up to seven hydro power sources). He did inform us that in the last month they had to comply with a law where the utility company now has to allow net metering - 1.5% of the annual revenue. From later dialog, I learned that represents about 40kw. (This is very good news for our wind power project). A gentleman who has worked on energy projects in various parts of the state was there. He was against wind power in Haines because of the topography. He cited the weather data from the airport as validation (the location of the weather station there is “out of the weather” and several at the meeting said it was not representative of the wind energy possibilities in Haines). A member of the local Native community was there to share his experiences unsuccessfully trying to implement wind power in the community. There was a woman there who vehemently opposes wind power because it isn’t the day time issue of the birds colliding with the wind mills, it is the night time issue of them running into the wind mills. I need to research this as I didn’t think there was that much bird traffic at night. There were two guys at the meeting who have used wind power for their homes in the community for the past 25 years. One had some fantastic ideas of harnessing the wind power in areas that have “compressed air” - that is wind that is more powerful due to the wind tunnel effects of the mountains and the canals. He proposes using wind mills on barges and creating methane from the energy produced if the wind mill cannot be hooked to the grid.
By the end of the meeting the naysayers had swayed the thinking of the room to not study the possibilities of wind power. Later that day I stumbled on a great quote:
“An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way rapidly winning over and converting its opponents; it rarely happens that Saul becomes Paul. What does happen is that its opponents gradually die out and that the growing generation is familiarized with the idea from the beginning.”
The Philosophy of Physics
This gave me an idea. My new friend with the innovative thinking about the wind mills on barges and I are seeing how we can fund the wind studies ourselves and work with the local high school science classes to do our own wind energy feasibility study in four locations he thinks might be good for wind power.
The big win for us with the meeting - we were in Haines while the Sockeye were running. I got my subsistence permit and went gillnet fishing with my colleagues who had joined me for the wind energy meeting. We caught 8 sockeye.