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Ellsworth area couple harnesses wind as power source

Area couple harnesses wind as power source

By Bill Kirk

TOWN OF SALEM--Turns out, Roy and Nancy Christianson found a good place to take advantage of Mother Nature for powering and heating their Town of Salem home when they moved there a couple of years ago.

High atop a hill just north of Hwy. 10, the wind is felt there regularly and the spot seems as close as any to the sun. In fact, a strong gust recently peeled the flashing off part of their roof, which has since been repaired.

But that's not what prompted Christianson to pursue the possibilities of wind power and solar energy for their three-bedroom house with an unfinished basement.

"I saw my first one in Prescott," he said of a wind turbine similar to the turbine that went up at his residence earlier this month.

Another of the large towers topped by the whirling blades appeared on nearby property along CTH CC. He said he talked with the owners, who indicated being very pleased with the equipment's performance.

Last summer, Christianson approached Freier's Electric and Heating in Ellsworth about the potential for the couple to likewise harness the wind. He said he learned of other options the business offered, including geothermal equipment, along with solar electric and solar water.

"We had a wind assessment done for them," said Linette Greske of Freier's, reminding a site that's constantly windy isn't necessarily ideal for locating a turbine. Yet, in this case, it was determined the place would indeed work well.

"It's above the tree line," owner Scott Freier said, mentioning such earthbound items that could interfere are called ground turbulence. Greske added some conservation measures recommended with the assessment have been accomplished.

The East Ellsworth company installed 20 solar panels on the Christiansons' five-year-old home before the turbine, in January, he said. When it came time to situate the latter, planners had to be careful it wouldn't block those panels, not even its shadow.

A crane wasn't needed to lift into place the 120-foot-tall turbine tower, which was raised using leverage instead, he said. A small propeller below the main one, at a specific height approximately three-quarters of the way up the structure, collects data like that used to site its host tower. An instrument called for by Focus on Energy, it meets mapping requirements. Other area landowners interested in having their own wind turbines will be able to take advantage of its data in the future.

Read more in the print version of the Herald April 29.