Alec Baldwin Turbine Puts Small Wind In Spotlight

The Alec Baldwin East Hampton wind turbine story might just be the best thing ever to happen to distributed wind power. Mike Bergey and the nearly three-dozen people who work at Bergey Windpower in Norman, Okla., can hope.

“It would be nice if this led to more people learning about what distributed wind power really is, and getting more of a fact-based understanding of our technology and our industry,” Bergey, the president of Bergey Windpower, said in a telephone interview this week.

Bergey Windpower,alec baldwin

A Bergey Windpower 10-kilowatt turbine in Oklahoma. (image via Bergey Windpower)

This mechanical engineer from Oklahoma is linked to the Baldwin story because it’s a Bergey Windpower Excel 10kW turbine that the 30 Rock star is seeking to erect on his eight-acre property. This came out when Bergey posted a comment Wednesday on the Wall Street Journal website in response to an article about Baldwin’s struggle to overcome rules and regulations that apparently make putting up a 120-foot-tall home wind turbine quite the bureaucratic challenge out on Long Island.

At last count the story had drawn 80 comments, many attacking Baldwin for being a rich guy who might take advantage of renewable energy incentives. Quite a few knocked renewable energy in general. Nearly all the commenters seemed to assume that a turbine like Baldwin’s would wreak havoc on the peace and tranquility of his neighborhood, if not all of East Hampton.

“Everybody is acting as though this is a monstrous machine,” Bergey said. “There’s a hysteria about wind power that has become pervasive, but the truth is our turbines will not drive everyone within several miles insane.”

So there’s the first point Bergey hopes people will get when it comes to small wind: it’s not big.

Baldwin’s hoped-for turbine has a rotor diameter of 23 feet, while a standard turbine at a big wind farm – the GE 1.6-82.5, for instance – has a rotor diameter of around 270 feet.

“It’s like night and day,” said Bergey, who wrote in his Journal comment that the noise from a 10-kilowatt turbine is about akin to that from an air conditioner.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

  • MM

    ONLY 100,000 dollars. That’s so much better than a monthly bill of $150.

    • Pete

      $41,205 with the incentives — and that’s given a conservative estimate of what he’d get back from LIPA. The actual rebate is $3.50/kWh of annual production, so at the high-side production estimate of 15,000 kWh his costs would come down to around $30,000. Information on the LIPA rebate program is here:http://www.lipower.org/residential/efficiency/renewables/wind-rebates.html 

  • small scale is the answer, the giant wind turbines are scary even if you want wind to create power, they are just too big.     get a little here, get a little there, use a little less, repeat

  • Valerie

    from alberta canada here  they should use those here alot more with the bountiful wind we have here