Wind Power Eases Former President Bush's Energy Bill

Former President George H.W. Bush is harnessing wind to help keep the lights on in his coastal home at Walker's Point.

A 33-foot-tall windmill that can produce 400 kilowatts a month at a wind speed of 12 mph was installed last week at the home of Bush and his wife, Barbara.

An average household uses about 600 kilowatts a month, said Bob Greig, president of All Season Home Improvement Co. in Augusta, which installed the windmill.

The Bushes had the windmill installed after being approached by Southwest Windpower, a nationwide company that manufactures wind turbines, said Jim Appleby, personal aide to the former president. The turbine is connected to the electric power grid.

If the turbine is not producing all of the power needs in the Bush home, it will draw electricity from the power company. But when it produces excess energy, that power goes to the grid and the homeowner will get credits from the power company.

That will probably be the case with the Bushes, said Greig, because the Bushes' summer home needs little power during the winter.

"When he comes up, he should have a substantial credit on his bill to start off the summer," Greig told the Portland Press Herald.

The Clean Air Act in 1990, which set higher standards for air quality and required cleaner-burning fuels, was reauthorized during Bush's presidency.

Because of the high visibility of Walker's Point, which is a popular stop for tourists, wind power's popularity should get a boost, said Bruce MacDonald, a member of Gov. John Baldacci's wind power task force.

Maine is home of New England's largest wind farm, which is located in Mars Hill in the northern part of the state. Its builder, Evergreen Wind Power, a subsidiary of UPC Wind Management of Newton, Mass., has received regulators' approval to build an even larger wind-power facility at Stetson Mountain in eastern Maine.