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Rooftop and Urban Wind

July 10, 2006
Paul Gipe

Roof Top Wind in Inaction


Southwest Windpower Air micro turbine tied-off on the railing of a fire watch tower on Bald Mountain in the Sequoia National Forest, 2006.

With the flap in early July about roof top wind hype in Great Britain, I was surprised to find the controversy dogging my steps into the Sierra Nevada.

On July 8, 2006 Nancy and I were hiking with the local California Native Plant Society to the Bald Mountain Botanical Area. At 9,000 feet (2,750 m) in the the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains, Bald Mountain provides a panoramic view for nearly 100 miles (170 km). For this reason, Bald Mountain is the site of a Sequoia National Forest fire watch tower.

As we came to the crest and we could see the tower, my eye was drawn immediately to the solar panels--and then to the wind turbine mounted on a railing near the solar panels. The turbine, a Southwest Windpower Air, was not operating. As we came closer I could tell that it was tied off. "Typical," I thought. Most of the roof top turbines I've seen are either inoperative or simply tied off.

The fire warden came out on the platform and hollered hello as we came up the trail. I yelled back a greeting and then asked her why the wind turbine wasn't working as there was plenty of wind on the summit. She shouted back, "So I don't have to listen to the damn thing."

Enough said. Just another example of improper wind turbine installation and the foolishness of mounting wind turbines on buildings--even a remote watch tower.


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