Saratoga County

Wind boosts family’s power meter

p>Jim and Sandy McBride have lived in Halfmoon long enough to know about the blustery wind that blow

Jim and Sandy McBride have lived in Halfmoon long enough to know about the blustery wind that blows across the open fields nearby, and decided this summer to put those gusts to good use.

After several years of research, they purchased and installed a wind turbine behind their home, a residential wind-powered generator capable of providing enough electrical power to move the hands on their home’s electricity meter backwards.

“It’s just amazing to know you’re creating more power than you’re using at any given time,” Sandy McBride said. “When we’re lying in bed at night, and most of the appliances are off, we hear the turbine moving and know we’re storing up power.”

At a cost of $12,000 to install, the family of five expects to earn the investment back in a few years.

“We use about 15,000 kilowatts of electricity a month in the summer, spending about $200 a month,” McBride said. “We plan to be at the point of not relying on power companies soon.”

Residential efforts to trim energy use with natural alternatives are applauded by officials at New York State energy conservation agencies.

As early as 2002, The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority supported wind-power projects by awarding contracts to pioneers working on environmentally sound ways to improve regional air quality.

“NYSERDA encourages New York’s consumers to embrace renewable energy resources and energy efficiency to help lower their energy costs and reduce their carbon footprint,” spokeswoman Colleen Ryan said.

“It’s an important part of Gov. [David] Paterson’s efforts to implement the recommendations of his renewable energy task force and his policy to reduce energy consumption 15 percent by 2015.”

Officials at NYSEG, the utility company serving Halfmoon, also strongly support residents’ working to tap into natural power sources, but caution all homeowners undertaking a project to follow state regulations.

“No matter what the size, our biggest concern with any residential or commercial installation to be connected to NYSEG’s electricity delivery system is that it meets safety regulations to the letter to protect the owners, NYSEG employees who work on the system and other NYSEG customers,” said Clayton Ellis, manager of corporate communications.

Unlike a traditional windmill, the McBride’s three-bladed structure has a modern design and moves steadily. It can produce power at wind speeds as low as 8 miles per hour, but in gust exceeding 60 miles per hour, there is an automatic shut-off to protect power company employees working on the transmission lines.

“The power goes out frequently in storms out here in the hills,” McBride said.

Despite the labor and initial cost, the family plans to add at least one more power turbine to their three acres of property.

“Our goal is to be completely independent of power companies,” McBride said. “We’re thinking of installing solar panels and taking a few other steps. We can’t believe other people aren’t considering this for their homes; it’s a great lesson for us to teach our children.”

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