Scott Hayes | email@example.com
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The recent theft of an alternative energy source dampened the festive spirits of the Yellowhead Amateur Radio Association over the holidays.
Regardless, the organization’s members are trying to keep the momentum going on a major project that it affected.
The association’s wind generator was stolen sometime over the Christmas weekend, as reported in a letter to the editor that was published in the Hinton Voice on Jan. 12. The unit was mounted on a pickup truck that was used for the Knights of Columbus’s float in the Hinton Snowflake Parade on Dec. 9.
“It was to be used to supply green energy for the internet system for the Mountain Cree ‘Smallboy Camp’ which the KofC had taken on as a project to build. This was essentially the last nail in the coffin for this project,” wrote Eric Rosendahl, the Yellowhead Amateur Radio Association’s secretary-treasurer, as published in the letter.
“Furthermore, had our efforts to develop this green energy system proven successful, it was our intention to start up a local cottage industry, to supply these systems, and to employ local workers, not the least being residents from the Small Boy Camp.”
Despite the setback, the association is forging onward. President Ron Rosmer confirmed that he has ordered a new wind generator.
The idea was originally to replace solar panels at the radio towers that it operates through Edson, Jasper and Grande Cache areas. The problem with those power sources is especially evident during the northern winters.
“Solar, of course, is good. It works whenever you’ve got the sun out. But for some of our sites, of course, it’s only giving you the power during the day. We’re looking at alternative methods of power generation and, and wind would be certainly an acceptable alternative,” Rosmer said.
“So, we’ve been experimenting with these wind generators to see what’s the amount of power we can get out of them. That was the reason for putting this wind generator on the roof of my truck. That way, I can accurately measure the voltage output, or the power output, at different speeds.”
Right now, the association has only one of its sites that is jointly supplied with power from solar and wind generation. One of its sites is a former microwave tower at Valemount, B.C., which, at 2,600 metres, would certainly be exposed to a wealth of wind for any generator that could be stationed there.
Rosmer said that the whole project is a work in progress with many technical facets to it. Part of it is to help establish high speed internet at the Smallboy Camp near Rocky Mountain House.
Through his communications company, he had installed a number of satellites for its residents. This led him to have a greater awareness of the need for internet service in the community.
It’s not just about communications, he said. It’s about improving the lives of a town of people who could really benefit from the assistance.
“There’s real problems with their whole infrastructure down there. Whereas some of the people have been running off of the generator that the school has, it’s not a very reliable or safe system for powering. My thought would be to also get them set up with green energy. This is where we could be looking at a combination of solar and wind,” he said, suggesting that solar would likely be more viable in the valley location where wind isn’t reliable.
Other alternative green energy models, including fuel cells, are being considered, but Rosmer said support for the project is lacking.
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