Wind Power Tested for Military Housing
Reported by: Gina Mangieri
Last Update: 7/26 7:02 pm
Navy and Marine Corps housing on Oahu may soon be going even more green by tapping into wind power.
One test is underway, another near, to see if wind can help generate electricity in Pearl City and Kaneohe. There are also new incentives to curtail the often higher power consumption in military homes.
It’s a hot day on the Pearl City Peninsula, and the kids in Navy housing are finding fun ways to cool off — when gentle Pearl Harbor breezes don’t do the trick.
But even light winds may still be just enough someday to keep the lights on — that’s what this contraption is here to figure out.
“We hope to understand how the wind operates here off of Pearl Harbor and eventually try to generate power using wind energy,” said John Wallenstrom, senior vice president of military housing for Forest City Military Communities Hawaii.
A 164-foot tall meteorological tower or “MET” is measuring wind speed to see how well smaller wind turbines could work here. The same test will get underway soon at other housing Forest City manages on the Marine Corps base in Kaneohe.
The grant-funded, year-long tests could lead to smaller wind turbines that could generate enough power for 10 homes each.
“We’re doing things in residential neighborhoods, and it’s very important to us to treat our residents well and do things that don’t upset the quality of life,” Wallenstrom said.
Wind would join already prevalent solar power in the Forest City communities. Whenever they get a chance to build new, even more steps are taken, making homes 40 percent more efficient than code.
Forest City is also working on helping residents be more energy conscious. Navy households in Hawaii use about 1.7 times the average amount of electricity as off-base housing. Military families don’t directly pay their electric bills.
“We don’t see it, so we can leave all the lights on and stuff like that, since we don’t see it,” said Sgt. Adrian Puentes, a Pearl City Peninsula. “I’m sure those who do pay it probably have a fit.”
A new incentive will give $100 a month to the top 5 percent of residents who cut their consumption the most. The Puentes family says they’ll go for it — which could mean even more pool time instead of air conditioning.
“We’re in the service and people think we don’t have hard times,” Puentes said, “but we need the money too, so it’s pretty good.”