May 4, 2011 —
It was announced with much enthusiasm back in 2007. Don Perry, then the vice president of the Sullivan County Partnership of Economic Development, told lawmakers that a Japanese company called Environmental Technologies, Inc. (ETI) would build a brand new experimental type of windmill, one with a vertical axis, and erect it on the campus of Sullivan County Community College (SCCC).
Perry said once the prototype was up and running, the plan was to manufacture more of them that would be offered for sale to utilities to be used in large wind farms, and ETI would provide the funding for the whole thing.
But even then not everyone was as optimistic about the possibilities of vertical windmills as Perry. Joe Swaha, a construction manager with an Ontario-based company called Sustainable Energy Development, said at the time that vertical windmills have not really worked out and, in his experience, they don’t deliver what the manufacturers promise in terms of output.
Now, it seems that ETI president Sam Ikeda has determined that this particular vertical windmill will join the list of other models that have disappointed their promoters.
On May 2, SCCC issued a press release saying that on June 1, ETI will begin dismantling the windmill and restoring the property to its original condition. The release said the decision was reached after a series of meetings with SCCC president Dr. Mamie Howard-Golladay, who, “despite the engineering problems with the turbine, believed the wind turbine could provide the college and the community with an exceptional learning tool.
“It is indeed unfortunate that the vertical shaft wind turbine is coming down,” said Howard-Golladay. “Even though the turbine gear box was not capable of delivering the intended results, we were hoping to use it to support our planned Wind Turbine Technology program and enhance our Green Building Maintenance and Management and Environmental Studies programs.”
According to the release, “The turbine gear box, which is located in a concrete casing, and the turbine shafts as they were turned by the wind, could not work together properly to generate sufficient enough power to satisfy Ikeda.”
The development is likely to come as good news to Ken Walter, whose mother owns a home a few hundred feet from the windmill, and who unsuccessfully filed suit against the college to prevent construction of the windmill.
Since the announcement of the project five years ago, Walter has become a high-profile critic of the college and a fixture at SCCC board meetings. He said he and others are glad the windmill will be coming down because it is “ugly.”