enlightened orgs: inspiration
ALBERTA’S WINDIEST CITY
That seemingly constant, gusting wind I cursed when I lived in Grande Prairie, Alberta, had a different look and feel for Drennen and Jamie Hallett. It was the whiff of opportunity.
The Hallett’s, owners of Golden Sheep Power, officially opened their doors for business in Grande Prairie on February 1, 2009. They will be the first company in Alberta to offer home-owners a chance to get off the grid by using home-based wind turbines and solar panels.
A NEW WIND IS BLOWING
Their timing could not be better. The provincial government just passed regulations to allow for micro-generation in Alberta. And the City of Grande Prairie, a city that has seen explosive growth in the past 5 years due to oil and gas exploration, has shown its openness to explore other sources of energy by allowing the Halletts to set up a pilot project to demonstrate and test the home-based units.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE PILOT IS SUCCESSFUL?
The main concern with wind turbines is noise, or the perception of noise.
The City of Grande Prairie have agreed to test a home-based unit and, if it is not too noisy, the City will change its bylaws to allow individual home-owners a choice for energy production – stay on the grid, or employ a home-based wind or solar unit to fully meet or supplement your requirements.
The pilot turbine is being erected in the centre of the city at the Fire Hall. It will not be set up to generate energy, but to gauge public reaction. The Hallet’s say the noise level of 15 to 30 decibels when it is running at its peak is equivalent to a whisper. Following the six month pilot, a survey will be conducted to get public reaction.
AN ALBERTA FIRST
If all goes well, that would make Grande Prairie the first city in Alberta to change its bylaws to allow for home-based generation. Only the tiny southern Alberta town of Cardston currently has bylaws to allow for wind turbines for residential use.
The Halletts have previous experience with micro-generation in Ontario where it has been approved by government for a few years. They believe homeowners will recover their installation costs (between $11,000 – $30,000.00 CDN) within 3-5 years. Most households, they say, will be able to produce enough energy for their needs. If a household uses more energy, they will just draw the additional from the grid.
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