Skystream wind turbine improves safety, visibility at Business Park’s entrance

Skystream wind turbine improves safety, visibility at Business Park’s entrance

Enjoying the state of illumination

Driving on Interstate 81 in northeastern Pennsylvania can be a shot in the dark. Routing around mountainous curves and finding dimly lit businesses situated along the highway is a dangerous challenge. Although for nearly two years, the traffic light and signs at the entrance to Schuylkill Highridge Business Park has been illuminated with light derived from energy captured by Southwest Windpower’s Skystream 3.7® wind turbine, making the area safer and more visible.

The turbine has produced some 3,510-kilowatt hours (kWh) since installed by Control Alt. Energy in Aug. 2010 according to the company’s president, Ed Woll. The system is wired to the grid, said Woll, but with net metering it reduces or eliminates the operating cost for the traffic lights and signage lighting.

The Highridge Business Park is located between exits 116 and 119 (Minersville) along I-81, which connects PA’s most northern point from Binghamton, NY southward towards Philadelphia, and is one of the largest mixed-used business parks in Pennsylvania, according to the Schuylkill Economic Development Corporation (SEDCO) website.

Solar vs. WindSEDCO Skystream

Choosing between wind power and solar panels was a contention discussed between Control Alt. Energy and SEDCO. After the deliberation it was noted that necessary southern orientation of solar panels by the entranceway sign would result in people viewing the back of the panels. The panels would have to face south in order to capture the sun’s rays.  

SEDCO was seeking the motion of a Skystream 3.7. Its whirling curved blades would catch the eye and drawing attention to the sign. And they do just that.

Woll and SEDCO agree that the wind turbine makes for a landmark in the area and especially highlights the entrance to the business park.

A needed change

For those who pass by the 2,000-acre park on I-81 the turbine is seen as backdrop to the park’s entrance sign. Frank J. Zukas, SEDCO president, commissioned the project in hopes to reduce accidents and heighten awareness of the park’s location.
SEDCO Skystream 3.7 install
“Accidents were happening,” said Woll.  Light produced by the sign and the power to the traffic light has made the intersection safer for drivers, said Woll.

“They [SEDCO] are finding that people aren’t missing the entrance,” said Woll. “Lights are shining on the Skystream. What otherwise would be a dark intersection on top of a mountain is now in clear sight.”

PA’s wind challenge

“Wind is kind of tough,” said Woll. In Pennsylvania, wind resources are highly variable due to the hilly terrain. “We have unique wind,” he said.

Because of the area’s spotty wind resources, Control Alt. Energy recommends conducting a wind study. The company rents anemometers and obtains as much data as they can to properly site a wind turbine. “The technology works if it’s put in the right location,” said Woll. “There are certainly viable locations with wind in [PA].”

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