My work at NRG Systems is purely international. I work with customers in China, India and other countries on a daily basis. When I travel to conferences or visit customers, it always involves crossing multiple time zones. As I tell people, “I don’t do short flights.” I am considering a bumper sticker: “my other bed is an economy seat.”
Despite the frequent jet lag, I love the work and enjoy the challenge of dealing with what others often consider headaches: different cultures and business styles, complex logistics and geographical quizzes.
In My Back Yard
But something has been bothering me for my entire tenure, 12 years as of mid August, and that is what has been happening in our home state of Vermont, a state with a green reputation. No wind projects have been built in Vermont in 15 years. While NRG Systems sold equipment to 145 countries during this period, not a single megawatt-sized wind turbine was installed. As the rest of the world embraced wind energy, Vermont did not see a single wind farm navigate the gauntlet of the permitting process. Well coordinated, passionate, and extremely small numbers of people, used NIMBY arguments to scuttle wind projects that would have produced pollution free energy, created jobs, improved the grid and provided inspiration to the next generation. It didn’t used to be in this way.
In 1941, the world’s first megawatt-sized wind turbine was installed in Castleton, Vermont. It ran for a few years until a blade flew off and war-time parts shortages prevented its repair.
Searsburg, Vermont, 1996
In 1996, the Searsburg wind farm was constructed in Searsburg, Vermont. NRG Systems played a major role in this project, providing wind measuring equipment (it was a great test site), installing measurement towers and hacking trails through the scrub forest. When the 11 turbines were installed, the wind farm was the largest wind farm east of the Mississippi River and was a case study of cold weather turbine operation.
So it was both a relief and heartening a few weeks ago to see photos of giant wind turbine parts carefully threading their way through the tiny town of Barton, Vermont. These turbines are being constructed as part of the First Wind’s Sheffield wind farm and will be producing 40MW of power in our home state starting next year. Finally!
Patrick Strom is the sales account manager for emerging markets at NRG Systems. He has a passion for travel, especially to far-flung places or to the birthplace of wind power, Denmark.