Harnessing the wind: Nikiski man installs turbine to combat high energy costs

Posted: Wednesday, July 22, 2009

After seeing his electric bill increase by more than 40 percent over the past year, Frank Sackman decided to take a proactive approach to help offset his rising costs. His solution: install a wind turbine at his home in Nikiski.

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Photos By M. Scott Moon
Photos By M. Scott Moon
Ben Kellie helps James W. Daggett, his wife, Nadia, and father, James C. Baggett, adjust the blades of a wind turbine Tuesday afternoon before attaching it to a mast at a residence in Nikiski.

Once Homer Electric Association completes its interconnection requirements today, Sackman will be connected to the grid and the wind can begin to power his home.

Though there's not a lot people can do about the cost of fuel and groceries, they can take action to lower the price of their utilities, Sackman said.

"You can do something about your (electric) bill, and this is one way to do it."

Despite using fewer kilowatt hours this summer, Sackman said his bill is still more expensive than last summer.

"There's no telling how high your (electric) bill is going to go," Sackman said. "Being on a fixed income, you gotta do something."

Alaska Wind Industries, the company that installed Sackman's turbine, conducted a survey of his land in April to determine if wind was a good alternative energy choice for him. As it turned out, his house is in a great location.

"Here, it's pretty much wide open," Sackman said. "We get a lot of wind here. A lot of wind."

Once the ground thawed out from the winter weather, Alaska Wind Industries began construction.

It takes about six days to install a 70-foot turbine, like the one Sackman purchased, said Nadia Daggett, who owns Alaska Wind Industries along with her husband, James. The most time in the process is spent waiting for the concrete base to cure, which takes about 23 days. Nadia estimated a tower of this size will generate about 45 percent of Sackman's energy.

The turbines contain no bearings and do not require constant oil maintenance, Nadia said.

"It's completely electronic," she said.

Since forming the company about a year and a half ago, Nadia said Alaska Wind Industries continues to grow.

"We have about 60 (projects) that are ready to go," she said.

Nadia estimated that by next summer her company will have installed about 100 turbines on the Kenai Peninsula.

"It's so exciting," she said. "It's a passion of mine."

Nadia attributed her company's success not only to increasing interest in alternative energy, but also to Homer Electric.

"HEA has been really supportive on this," she said.

With a 30 percent tax rebate being distributed by the federal government to homeowners who install wind turbines, Nadia said Sackman's turbine should pay for itself in less than five years.

After a three-month wait since the Daggetts first surveyed his land, Sackman is ready to have his turbine up and running.

"It's worked out pretty good," he said. "It will be interesting to see what this does."

But it's not just saving money that drove Sackman to go green. He said concern for the environment was another factor in his decision.

This is one way to combat global warming, he said.

"People should be concerned about the environment," Sackman said. "Everybody's got to do their part, otherwise we won't have a world to live in."

Mike Nesper can be reached at mike.nesper@peninsulaclarion.com.

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