In 2009 Bolton became the second ski area in the country, and the first in Vermont, to boast a wind turbine on site. The turbine is maintained by Bolton Valley staff and owned by Larry Williams and Doug Nedde, also the owners of Bolton Valley.
The 121-foot-tall Northwind 100 Wind Turbine produces approximately 300,000 kilowatt hours of power annually and can start generating electricity at wind speeds as low as 6 mph. The turbine uses net metering so power is sent into the electrical grid and in return, Bolton Valley receives a price reduction on their electricity. The amount of power produced could cover about one eighth of Bolton Valley’s total energy needs, which is equivalent to the electricity consumed by 40 to 45 Vermont households.
Northern Power Systems is a Vermont company based in Barre that used Vermont companies whenever possible throughout the manufacturing and installation of the turbine. Northern Power Systems also created a kiosk that tracks live info from the turbine. Check out the site to see the turbine’s current status. For even more specifics about the wind turbine check out the wind turbine fact sheet.
Rime ice, an opaque coating of tiny, white, granular ice particles caused by the rapid freezing of supercooled water droplets on impact with an object, can throw off the turbine’s balance and cause drag. Because the turbine is harmonically tuned it will automatically shut off when it senses an imbalance or drag. This is what keeps the windmill from running 24/7 in the winter months. January through February/March are the least productive months for the turbine. The milder the weather conditions, the more often the turbine can spin and produce power. Three solutions have been tested on the blades to prevent rime ice from building up. The first set of blades were coated with special paint that was designed to resist any type of substance from adhering to the painted surface but the blades still collected ice. Next, a heated blade with no special coating was installed, but that did not prevent icing either. The current blades are now coated with another design of paint that utilizes nanotechnology to have even smaller pores than the first blades. This most recent attempt at reducing rime ice has not been truly tested because of the very mild winter of 2011/2012, the first season it was being tested. There is hope that this solution will prove successful.
This unique initiative prompted Bolton’s receipt of the National Ski Areas Association’s 2010 Silver Eagle Award for Excellence in Energy Conservation/Clean Energy. These NSAA awards have garnered national recognition as the leading program honoring environmental excellence in the ski industry.