Officials unveil wind-generation partnership

On a fabulously windy day – the kind of day wind-energy proponents dream of as a backdrop – Gov. Jack Markell joined DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, U.S. Rep. Mike Castle, state Rep. Gerald Hocker, state Sen. George Howard Bunting and other dignitaries at Delaware Seashore State Park to celebrate a wind-energy partnership with the installation of two 45-foot-tall Skystream 3.7 wind generators.

Coastal Point • Monica Fleming: As the need and appreciation of renewable energy has increased, windmills (like this one at Delaware Seashore State Park) have been bourne out of cooperative efforts within the state.Coastal Point • Monica Fleming
As the need and appreciation of renewable energy has increased, windmills (like this one at Delaware Seashore State Park) have been bourne out of cooperative efforts within the state.

One of the two turbines will provide power to the Center for the Inland Bays. The other is connected to the cottages at Indian River Marina.

The Center for the Inland Bays, Delaware State Parks and Flexera partnered to install these first turbines on state-owned property. Each of the towers will generate about 5,600 kw-hours of power a year, offsetting about 28,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. But, even better than that, the sight of them is expected to act as an inspiration to many.

Markell said the project was an “unbelievable win-win-win,” adding that the state has taken the lead in actually walking the green walk. He said it was not about which state was the biggest or the best but, rather, which one was the fastest in marshalling its resources, something he said Delaware is doing.

“We are not just talking,” he said of the state. “We are actually doing the real work. We have the only purchase power agreement for offshore wind, so we have our natural resources. And we have our intelligent resources, from big companies like DuPont to small companies like Flexera.”

Markell said the payoff is not only in leading on the environmental front but on creating “green” jobs.

“Whether it’s going from two to 26 employees in four years,” he said, referencing Flexera, “or marrying 21st century technology with talent that’s been around 50 years, this is what it’s all about – jobs. The important thing is it is good for the environment and good for the pocketbook.”

Markell credited the notion to Carper, saying it was something the former governor had brought up years ago: that being green is as much a national security issue as it is an economic one.

“It reduces our dependency on fossil fuels,” he said. “We send less money to the people who use it against us, and it has economic security. It puts people to work. It’s about jobs.”

The wind generators themselves are expected to serve two functions, according to officials.

“They have two functions,” said Charles “Chaz” Salkin of DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation. “One, to provide energy for the center’s headquarters and for the marine cottages. And, two, to reduce our carbon footprint while educating, to lead others to investigate, construct and operate their own.”

The turbines were financed through a 2005 State Bond Bill appropriation.

Castle and Carper also remarked on the importance of the day and the fact that the state is taking action rather just talking. O’Mara spoke of the incredible contrasts of the past to the future, to be found within the small state, noting both “the windmills going a mile a minute driving down Route 1, as well as the older power plants.”

“It’s easy for me to stand up here basking in the (wind) power,” O’Mara said, jokingly. “But it is really the people behind the scenes that make it happen. We all have a role, and if we each do our part, we can achieve it.”

In addition to the two turbines on the state park property, the actual Center for the Inland Bays building has many green features, including recycled drywall painted with low volatile organic compound (VOC) paint; sisal, cork and bamboo flooring; a 4.8 kw solar system; recycled glass countertops; inside and outside furnishings made out of recycled materials; low-flow plumbing fixtures; and native landscaping and rainwater collection and re-use through rain barrels and a rain garden.

The first commitment to the sustainability of the building was recycling it from its original use as the former Coast Guard barracks to its present-day use as the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays’ headquarters.