PORTLAND – Usually, getting an up-close look at a wind turbine would require scaling a tall tower. This summer, Portland residents and visitors may find it no more difficult than going out to dinner.

Nelson & Small, a commercial and residential appliance dealer, will install a Windspire vertical turbine next to DiMillo’s Restaurant on the waterfront to demonstrate the electricity generator, for which Nelson & Small is the New England distributor.

Windspire vertical turbines are about 30 feet tall and rotate around a vertical axis, said Mark Hellen, energy services manager for Nelson & Small. He said the model to be installed next to DiMillo’s will generate about 300 to 400 kilowatts a month — about a third of the electricity needed to power a house.

The turbine will be hooked up to the office of the marina at DiMillo’s.

“It’s more aesthetically pleasing, some people feel, than the propeller-type,” Hellen said of the turbine. “It almost looks like a piece of art.”

Windmills have become controversial because of noise concerns, but Hellen said the Windspire’s blades cut through the wind rather than slap it, so it’s quieter.


He also said vertical turbines don’t require “clean air”– wind that is smooth and unobstructed — like windmills do and thus can be closer to the ground and in urban settings.

The Windspire at DiMillo’s will be on a 5-foot base, Hellen said, because the city asked that moving parts be out of reach. The company will set up a display explaining the turbine and a digital readout to show how much energy it’s generating.

Hellen said Nelson & Small first sought city approval to set up the turbine more than a year ago, but then Windspire had a parts shortage that limited production. He said the goal now is to get the equipment in place by summer.

The proposal to for the turbine was one reason the city began an effort to come up with rules governing windmills, said Jean Fraser, a planner with the city.

She noted that Nelson & Small’s turbine won’t be subject to the rules, which set out height and sound limits, because the company applied before the city started drafting them.

However, Fraser said, the Windspire appears to meet those rules, which are expected to be reviewed by the Planning Board in the next month or two.

She said it’s taking a while to come up with the regulations because “the technology is changing and developing.”

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: [email protected]


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