Perriello visits University wind energy laboratory
U.S. representative, delegates show support for emerging alternative technology
Rep. Tom Perriello, along with delegates Robert Bell and David Toscano, all of whom represent the Charlottesville area at various levels of government, toured the University's Rotating Machinery and Controls Laboratory yesterday to examine the effects of wind energy. The Democratic and Republican leaders in part made their visit to show support for emerging power technologies.
The politicians were shown a scale model of a wind turbine, said Engineering Prof. Paul Allaire, director of the Jefferson Wind Energy Institute. The model, which is about 8-feet tall, was placed inside a wind tunnel that generates wind up to about 12 miles an hour, he added. The model turbine is an attempt to show how wind turbines could rotate and work, he said.
"But it's very small and won't generate much energy, so the plan is to build a 150-foot version," he added, [which] would look like a cell tower." The objective of this project is to develop a system capable of producing about 50 kilowatts of power, which could power a large farm or about six homes, he said.
The Jefferson Wind Energy Institute is working on this plan with the Charlottesville-based Central Virginia Wind Energy. In addition to presenting the scale model, the institute presented drawings of the proposed turbines to the politicians, Allaire said.
"We talked about the availability of wind energy in Virginia," Allaire said, adding that there is "very good wind energy" along the coastal areas and in the Appalachian Mountains area along the western edge of the state. "There's a large effort underway to develop offshore wind energy farms," he said, as well as an interest in building a wind turbine manufacturing plant and establishing wind farms.
The politicians visited Grounds "in part to support the efforts of U.Va. to try to promote wind energy and other alternative energy sources," Allaire said.
"He's looking at ways in which this kind of activity can help to generate jobs in Virginia," Allaire said about Perriello specifically. For example, he added, if Areva, a multinational nuclear power conglomerate, establishes a wind turbine manufacturing plant in Virginia, including the impact of in-state suppliers, it could mean about 20,000 new jobs in the commonwealth.
"A fair amount of this might come in Tom Perriello's district," Allaire noted, "so that's why he's interested in it."
Perriello spokesperson Jessica Barba said Perriello has focused on alternative and renewable energy sources and how they can be "economic drivers" in central and southern Virginia from the beginning of his term.
"He's toured a lot of facilities around the district that have promising projects going on," she said. "[The work in the ROMAC lab]'s just one of many projects [Perriello]'s seeing ... that have promise to become economic drivers of the area"