While the administration of Governor Deval Patrick is defending a state-sponsored report this week that found few health problems are caused by traditional wind turbines, an innovative wind turbine project of a different type got the green light in Montague, Massachusetts this week.
Urban Power USA, which is based in Easthampton plans to build a vertical-axis turbine that from a distance looks more like a water tower than a propeller. the design has won praise from Scientific American and the United Nations. Company owner Mark Maynard says he developed the turbine to work in less windy terrain and to be less visually obtrusive. But, he adds, there are trade offs.
"The primary thing you give up is size. Out turbines are simply larger. They are not as efficient so we simply have to make them larger to put the same output out but they make absolutely no noise. They have an extremely simple maintenance process. if you maintain these turbines there is no reason why they should ever go away. Literarily ever," Maynard said.
Maynard says the 73-foot tall turbines also don't attract birds, bats and other wildlife which can be harmed by traditional turbines. The project is slated to be built on private land– with the land owner and company splitting the several hundred thousand dollar cost. Maynard says if the weather doesn't interfere too much he expects the vertical wind turbine to be up and running by the end of this spring.