For Immediate Release:

Contact(s):  Valerie Burnette Edgar or Charlie Gischlar (410) 545-0303


New Wind Turbine in Westminster Part of Smart, Green and Growing Initiative

            (July 17, 2009) – Astronaut Neil Armstrong’s phrase uttered from one-quarter million miles away on the surface of the moon still gives chills to those who hear it.  As America celebrates the 40th anniversary of the breathtaking moon landing, the Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration (SHA) is making a small step and a giant leap toward energy sustainability with the installation of a wind turbine at the Westminster Maintenance Facility in Carroll County.  The installation is a pilot project to determine the feasibility and the effectiveness of using “green” wind energy to help power SHA facilities.


            “A key to a better, stronger Maryland is the development of sustainable energy sources,” said Governor Martin O’Malley.  “Pilot projects like this one will help us unlock and harness the potential of wind power.  With it we are developing a better understanding of how renewable energy sources can help satisfy our energy needs while protecting our environment.  This SHA initiative is a step in the right direction and has the potential of opening the door to greater possibilities down the road.” 


SHA’s $25,000 pilot energy project is producing sustainable energy that flows directly to the shop’s power grid.  The 60-foot tall wind turbine can generate as much as 2,400 watts of green energy and an average of 700 kilowatt hours of clean and renewable energy each month, reducing monthly more than 1,400 pounds of carbon dioxide that would otherwise be produced by coal-burning power plants.  This translates into an equivalent of driving 109,000 miles in an average American sedan annually.  Over the course of its 20-25 year life, the turbine will reduce greenhouse gas emissions equal to driving 15-18 automobiles 150,000 miles each.  The wind turbine pilot program was chosen due to its ease of installation, cost and ease of maintenance.  The wind turbine is located in the back parking lot of the Westminster Maintenance Facility on Wyndtryst Drive.  SHA completed the installation in mid-June.


           “As part of the project, we will thoroughly evaluate the wind turbine’s impact to the natural and cultural environment, mechanical operations and maintenance requirements,” said SHA Administrator Neil Pedersen.  “Our ultimate goal is to identify renewable energy sources that will help power SHA through the 21st century.”


            SHA selected the Westminster facility for the pilot project following wind assessments conducted by the Maryland Energy Administration.  The Westminster wind turbine is similar to residential units.  It is not visually intrusive and operates with limited noise or sound.  SHA purchased the wind turbine from Montgomery County based Potomac Wind Energy in Dickerson.  

“Clean energy is a triple win for the state because it saves money, creates jobs and advances our energy independence," noted MEA Director Malcolm Woolf.  “The Maryland Energy Administration commends the SHA for their role in advancing the use of clean energy in our State, and I am pleased that they were able to take advantage of our Agency’s Windswept Grant Program to help bring this wind turbine to Westminster."


            The Maryland Energy Administration, through its Windswept Grant Program, contributed $6,000.00 toward the purchase and installation of the wind turbine.  The wind energy pilot in Westminster supports Governor Martin O’Malley’s Smart, Green and Growing Initiative, as well as the EmPower Maryland Initiative, and the Maryland Climate Action Plan. 

   Introduced by Governor Martin O’Malley in October 2008, Maryland’s Smart, Green & Growing initiative was created to strengthen the state’s leadership role in fostering smarter, more sustainable growth and inspiring action among all Marylanders to achieve a more sustainable future. The initiative brings together state agencies, local governments, businesses and citizens to create more livable communities, improve transportation options, reduce the state’s carbon footprint, support resource based industry, invest in green technologies, preserve valuable resource lands and restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay.



Editor’s Note:  Photo opportunities available.  Call the SHA Office of Communications at 410-545-0303 or 1-800-323-MSHA (6742).


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