PUD adds wind to energy alternatives it is exploring

  • Wed Jan 11th, 2012 7:55pm
  • News

By Bill Sheets Herald Writer

EVERETT — Add wind power to the types of alternative energy being studied by the Snohomish County Public Utility District.

The PUD hopes in the next few months to begin running two wind turbines on its operations building at 1802 75th St. SW near the Boeing plant in Everett.

“Our idea is to become more knowledgeable in them and in the operation of these units,” PUD spokesman Neil Neroutsos said. “More customers are going to be turning to smaller generating units, whether it’s solar or wind or other sources.”

The PUD also is drilling exploratory wells for geothermal power in the Cascades and hopes to begin operating tidal turbines in Admiralty Inlet by 2013. Additionally, the utility offers cash or low-interest loans toward the cost of installing solar panels on homes.

The PUD is planning to use two different types of wind-power units and will compare their power output per dollar spent.

The larger of the two is a Bergey Excel 10 model, made by Bergey WindPower of Norman, Okla. It looks a little like a helicopter, except with the blades located on the front of the device and oriented perpendicular to the ground rather than parallel.

The unit would be mounted atop an 80-foot tower. The PUD is seeking a permit from the city of Everett to install the tower, Neroutsos said.

The unit is expected to produce 4,300 kilowatt hours of power per year, enough to meet about a third of the energy needs for an average home, Neroutsos said. The device will cost $60,000 including installation, he said.

The other unit is called a Gale T1, made by Tangarie of Vernon, Texas. It’s 15 feet tall and shaped like a tube that’s been stood on its end and twisted. Its open sides catch the wind and cause it to spin.

Tangarie first installed the unit on the operations center for the PUD last year, but did so improperly, which kept it from generating power, Neroutsos said. The company has agreed to reinstall the device at no additional charge, he said.

It’s expected to produce less than half the power of the Bergey unit, but it costs less: $17,500, Neroutsos said.

The PUD researched the many types of small windmills and determined these two could produce the most power for the money, he said. There are a multitude of types available, all the way down to install-it-yourself models carried by hardware stores.

Eventually, the PUD could offer production credits to property owners with small windmills, based on the amount of power they generate, he said.

Another type of wind-power generator, the Energy Ball, can be seen on two buildings at Paine Field, not far from the PUD operations center.

The Washington Aerospace Training and Research Center installed an Energy Ball about 1½ years ago. The Future of Flight Museum had one put up in September, said Mary Brueggeman, development director for the museum.

The Energy Ball has six rotary blades on a horizontal axis that spin within a 6.5-foot-diameter spherical frame. The device is made by Home Energy Americas of McKinney, Texas, and distributed by Northwest Windpower of Seattle.

Up-to-date figures for the power generated at the two buildings was not available Wednesday. In 2010, the unit on the training center generated a total of 380 kilowatts for its first six months, amounting to a small, supplemental amount of the power used by the business.

The Energy Ball comes in two sizes. The V200, of the type on the airport buildings, runs about $22,000 and the smaller V100 about $12,000.

A homeowner installing any of the units at a residence can use a federal tax credit to knock 30 percent off the total cost of purchase and installation, according to the U.S. Department of Energy website.

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; sheets@heraldnet.com.