EAST DORSET >> An entrepreneur building a wind turbine facility in the heart of the Green Mountains in Bennington County is taking on industrial wind turbine manufacturers with a product he believes fits right into Vermont's environmental ethos.
"I moved here from New Jersey specifically to build a factory," said Jason Day, the founder of Star Wind Turbines. "This is the best place in the entire United States for wind power. The energy programs promoted by the state are friendly and superior to programs in other states."
Day, an electrical engineer with a 30-year background in the aerospace industry, founded Star Wind Turbines to build high efficiency, low maintenance small wind turbines and wind turbine towers of his own design. It was important that his designs by easy to install, fit in with the landscape and are affordable.
"We have a multi-blade design, a low RPM blade that never goes invisible," he said. "This means a number of things. First, they make less noise. The blades are silent. Even standing under the turbine you can't hear it."
In addition, said Day, the design is meant to capture low to moderate winds.
"It is designed for Vermont, which is a low-wind area and is financially feasible for farmers."
And the lower turning speed of the blades means it is safer for the region's bird and bat populations.
Day's facility in East Dorset is a net-zero facility, meaning it gets all its energy from on-site turbines, and he currently employs five people. But he hopes to employ even more people soon, and that includes machinists, welders, equipment operators and installation technicians.
"We are manufacturing the whole thing right here in Vermont," he said.
The wind turbines came in three sizes, producing between 5kw and 45kw, can be net metered and can charge storage batteries.
"These turbines are small and don't have the visual and environmental impacts the big ones do. If you have some land, you can put one of these up and make, share or sell your energy. But you don't have to put one up in your backyard. You can buy a share in a turbine with 20 of your neighbors."
Day encourages people to take advantage of Vermont's generous programs for renewable energy because the multi-national corporations are already taking advantage of them. He said residents should go to their select boards and discuss the development of an "energy park" that can be used to site small wind turbines and solar panels for the benefit of the town and not out-of-state, or even out-of-country, shareholders.
"The energy programs designed by the Vermont Legislature were designed for Vermonters but Vermonters are not taking advantage of them. They could wake up one day and find out all of these wonderful programs designed for them to boost the local economy have been taken up by our-of-state corporations."
Star Wind's smallest turbine stands 75 feet tall, tiny in comparison to the mega-structures proposed for the controversial Stiles Brook Wind Project in Windham and Grafton. Those towers are expected to be 400 feet tall.
"Grafton and Windham should be doing this themselves," said Day. "They have good wind sites there that are privately owned. They should get together and come up with an energy park."
Day said being an upstart in a business that is dominated by multi-national corporations can mean he has to overcome perceptions that don't pertain to his designs.
"I hear a lot of unfair and illogical arguments. But our small wind turbines are going to blend into the environment, just like a farm silo. People aren't even going to notice them. They are built to fit right into the landscape."
Having a community owned energy park is also good for the local economy, said Day.
"Right now, $1 billion in fossil fuel revenues are leaving Vermont. If we can find a way of producing local energy, all that money stays in the community."
Star Wind Turbines currently has an application in front of the Vermont Public Service Board to build a demonstration site in Wardsboro, the Tomlinson Wind B Project, with six turbines producing 150kw of electricity.
Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 160.