Wind turbine doubles as tribute to family

ATHENS, GEORGIA - Most memorials preserve memories, but a new one nearing completion on a family farm will generate power, too.

If all goes according to schedule today, engineers from Appalachian Power will complete the final inspection of a new wind turbine on The Clarke Farm, located off Route 20 about two miles west of Athens, said Gloria Clarke Zucchet.

Gloria, 86, recalled how her family came to the property and discovered that it offered a steady and abundant resource.

"After searching for many years, my parents purchased our farm on a hilltop overlooking the town of Athens in December 1941," she said. "Our first winter with its howling winds was a new experience for us. The winds and the open hilltop location made it practical to attempt to harvest this clean source of energy." New technology and a gift from a loved one made it possible to tap this resource.

"An inheritance from my sister has made it possible," Gloria said. "I chose PIMBY, Power In My Back Yard, Ltd., a firm from Thomas, W.Va., to plan, design and erect a tower and turbine as a working memorial to family members."

The turbine assembly comes from Abundant Renewable Energy located in Newberg, Oregon, she said, and the tower was constructed in Plymouth, Indiana. The resulting wind turbine and tower system is designed to provide electrical energy for the family's guest house. Any excess current will be fed into the Appalachian Power grid, Gloria said.

"In the winter when the wind is really howling, we'll have excess I'm sure," she added.

For several months, the family has watched their project take shape.

"This past spring and summer have been interesting and exciting, watching the 100- foot tower being assembled and the turbine added," she said. "The real excitement came when a crane from the Richlands area hoisted the assembly up and lowered it to its latform."

A dual flow power meter will be installed after Appalachian Power engineers complete the final inspection.

"With Appalachian Power approval, the system will be activated and the turbine will turn into the wind to begin to generate power," Gloria said. She could not recall offhand how much electricity the turbine can generate, but equipment for the project co t approximately $60,000.

"Labor and the four-foot concrete pad are additional and so far we haven't gotten a bill for those," she said. "It will be really exciting when we see it turning."


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