August 28, 2013

A Word With the Boss: Pika Energy's president putting new spin on power

By Edward D. Murphy emurphy@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Ben Polito, president of Pika Energy in Westbrook, holds one of three blades on a wind turbine at his new facility.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

A personal wind turbine you can buy on the market today is between $30 and $60 a pound. If you were to buy it at a grocery store, it's like buying caviar. (The cost of a home wind turbine can start around $500.) If you go over to Home Depot, a John Deere mower is about $3 a pound. If we can manufacture these wind turbines as efficiently as a lawn mower, far more people will be able to afford them, cut their electric bills and reduce their environmental impact.

Q. Is Maine a promising place for using your systems?

A. Maine is a good location for hybrid (wind-solar) systems. The primary challenge here is that the wind isn't fantastic except along the coast and in the mountains. The problem is that the trees are really tall. A lot of people have installed wind turbines in places where the turbines aren't as tall as the trees. A better market is west of us, where the winds are stronger and the trees aren't as tall, like in the Great Plains. But solar, you can do anywhere, and you can think of a hybrid system (in Maine) as a diversified investment.

Q. Some people who live near wind farms complain about the noise associated with the turbines. How do you address that for turbines designed to be used right next to houses?

A. They're very quiet. We've done a lot of work on both the dynamics of the blade and our generators. Our test site locally is on County Road in Gorham, and we can't measure the sound (of the unit) over the passing cars on a local two-lane road. The big turbines are fantastic in terms of producing a lot of clean energy, but most people want them a respectable distance from their house.

Q. What does the future look like for your company?

A. The goal for our company is to drive the cost down dramatically ... and improve performance to the point where it becomes a no-brainer (for homeowners). Some people want to do this for environmental reasons, but the way to do this for the larger market is to get it to the point where it makes sense (economically).

We're talking about being a worldwide exporter of these products. It's not an export possibility just for us -- it's an export possibility for the U.S. and Maine to produce and sell these high-quality items.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

emurphy@pressherald.com

 

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