The Blog

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hamburg to Lineville -

                                      One angry Turtle sitting in the middle of the road

The night didn't disappoint as far as the predicted weather went.  It did disappoint as far as sleeping went.  I chose to sleep in the van and the rain, thunder and town noises kept me awake most of the night.
None of us slept well and the wet misty morning made it easy for us to decide to do a portage.  In addition, my mileage estimates for crossing Iowa were wildly optimistic so to keep ourselves happy we drove to Mt. Ayr.  On the way I called Stuart in Fairfield and we discussed our upcoming weekend.  He reminded me that he's involved in a new wind turbine company in Mt. Ayr that we should visit.  He gave me the phone # of the CEO, Charlie Sharp and he set us up with an appointment at their facility.
Heartland is the name of the wind company and they are currently in the latter stages of developing a 100KW wind turbine (100 KW is enough to power about 25 homes).  Since they are still in development, they couldn't let us see their facility so we met in a conference room and spoke with Larry Preston who is an engineer involved with many different aspects of the project.  They currently have 15 employees and once they get into production, they are looking to hire about 100 people.  For a small town like Mt Ayr, the success of Heartland would be a real boon.
According to Larry, the size turbine that they are building fills a niche that is currently not being serviced.  Small manufacturers, farmers, schools and universities are all potential customers for the Heartland system.  
Larry could not give us any specifics but what we did learn is that their turbine is designed for 20 mph winds, their tower will  be about 150 ft tall and that the power produced will easily tie into existing grid infrastructure which eliminates the need for huge infrastructure expenses that the large utility scale projects usually have to cover.
The other business that Heartland is involved in is recommissioning older wind turbines, many of which are coming out of the wind farms in Tehachapi.  (We should have brought one with us!)  They basically replace all the moving parts and then resell the turbines to people and projects that can't afford to go with the new.  The turbines that they are recommissioning are in the 65 KW range but since they are old technology, they don't work nearly as efficiently as the new designs being sold today.  But at least they are offsetting some fossil fuel based power!

After leaving Heartland, we went into town to take care of some internet stuff before hitting the road.  On the way in, we pulled right in front of an enormous big rig hauling a huge turbine blade.  The blade reminded me of a whale.  It was awesome!
The library was closed so we made our way into City Hall and found internet access in the Assessor's office.  They were very kind and interested in what we were doing and we enjoyed sharing our stories with them and learning a bit more about the Mt. Ayr area.
Finally, we hit the road and got in about 50 miles of some of the nicest scenery and roads we've seen yet.  The county roads are fabulous here and the drivers are quite courteous and used to slow vehicles since we are in Amish country and there are signs all over warning drivers to watch for horse drawn vehicles. (We stopped at two roadside stands and bought strawberries from Amish families.  I pigged out and we still have some left for breakfast.)
We are parked at a lovely campsite by a lake and looking forward to a night full of critter noises.
Rolf conducting business in Sweden on an Iowa highway
Catherine at Heartland's Manufacturing site in Mt. Ayr, Iowa
Larry Preston and I in front of a really sweet quilt
Amish country
Taking my b ike out for a little evening swamping
Touchin' up the green - That's olive oil
One scary turtle
Planning the next day's route-  Check out those chiseled thighs

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