As the song says, “the answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.” The “question” in the case of Hempstead Town’s new 100-kilowatt wind turbine is, “how do you fuel-up pollution-free cars without creating any carbon footprint?” More specifically, Supervisor Kate Murray and Councilwoman Angie Cullin unveiled a state-of-the-art wind turbine that will provide the energy necessary to create hydrogen gas, which is being used to power the town’s fuel cell cars. This “closed loop” energy system is completely “green” in producing fuel for vehicles that emit no pollutants.

Also present at the high-energy event were Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin and Long Island energy partners, including the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College, New York Institute of Technology, Wilke Engineering, the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), the Point Lookout and Lido Beach Civic Associations and the Point Lookout-Lido Fire Department.

“I am ‘blown away’ by the potential of renewable energy,” stated Murray. “It’s awe inspiring that we are using renewable wind power to convert natural water into hydrogen gas in order to power pollution-free cars.”

The wind turbine, which is located the township’s Conservation and Waterways Department in Point Lookout, stands 121 feet tall. The “windmill” is capable of generating up to 180 megawatts of power per year. Powered by winds off the Atlantic coast, the turbine will provide an almost continuous source of energy that will facilitate a water-to-hydrogen process. The resulting hydrogen fuel is dispensed from Long Island’s only hydrogen fueling station, located adjacent to the turbine. Ultimately, the hydrogen fuel is utilized to power Toyota fuel-cell vehicles operated by the town, as well as a hydrogen/natural gas bus. The town is negotiating with another major fuel-cell vehicle manufacturer to secure additional cars.

“This wind turbine is a key element of the town’s clean, renewable energy agenda,” said Cullin. “We’re making the planet cleaner for our families and future generations.”

Funding for the wind turbine was drawn from a $4.6-million United States Department of Energy grant secured by the Town of Hempstead. The wind-powered device had a total cost of almost $615,000. Additionally, electrical and marine bulkheading work associated with the project was performed “in-house” by town personnel, and had an estimated private sector value of over $150,000.

The annual energy cost savings associated with the turbine if applied to local private LIPA customers is estimated at approximately $40,000. Actual cost savings to the town will vary from this estimate, based on the fact that the town’s utility rates are variable; the amount of hydrogen fuel used and generated will have to be quantified and gauged against hydrogen fuel prices on the open market. Finally, the “excess energy” generated by the turbine will be turned back to the LIPA grid, resulting in yet-to-be determined reductions in net electrical costs from the utility.

“Kate Murray and the Town of Hempstead are true Long Island leaders in advancing the use of solar and wind into Long Island’s energy portfolio,” said Long Island Power Authority Chief Operating Officer Michael D. Hervey. “LIPA was happy to provide technical assistance with this project, and remains committed to working with our residents, local governments, businesses, and community leaders to promote and invest in energy efficiency and renewable technologies through our nationally recognized solar, wind and Efficiency Long Island programs, which help to improve our environment and accelerate the clean energy economy.”

In addition to the wind turbine, U.S. Department of Energy grant funding is being used to finance the construction of a 60K solar field, two solar trackers (solar panels which follow the path of the sun), a solar-powered carport and a geothermal energy project that will address heating and cooling needs at the town’s Conservation and Waterways facility.

“By utilizing the great wind resource in Long Island, the Northern Power 100 wind turbine will help provide real cost savings, emissions reductions and energy security to the Town of Hempstead,” said Brett Pingree, VP of Sales & Marketing for Northern Power Systems. “It makes perfect sense that a forward-thinking municipality would be the one to lead by example as we all plan for our evolving energy future.”

The town has aggressively pursed grant funding for its renewable energy projects, helping to mitigate the impact on taxpayers. This type of proactive approach to funding helps the town to pursue innovative improvements while it has frozen taxes for 2012. Additionally, the town is advancing its goals of helping to demonstrate the benefits of green technologies, educating the public on those benefits, and to further the research and development of such initiatives in the future.

“We love it,” said Addy Quinn of the Lido Beach Civic Association. “It’s another positive step in reducing the carbon footprint and showing us new ways of getting energy.”

“Across the U.S., the Energy Department’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program partners like Hempstead are deploying innovative clean energy products and services and helping families, businesses and governments reduce energy waste,” said Ted Donat, Program Lead for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservative Block Grant Program. “This project can serve as a model for other local governments that want to use renewable energy sources to reduce the need to buy gas and diesel fuel and save money in the process.”

“The answer to clean and renewable energy is ‘blowin’ in the wind,’” concluded Murray. “This wind turbine is creating renewable energy, saving money, conserving natural resources and building an environmentally responsible legacy for our children and our children’s children.”

Source: Town of Hempstead, New York