Modern turbines make history -- Off to the Henry Ford

When the Princeton Municipal Light Department completes the repowering of its old wind plant in central Massachusetts, one of the original eight Enertech 40 kW turbines will head for an unusual destination -- The Henry Ford, a museum of science and technology located in Dearborn, Michigan.

"We got a letter from the museum asking if they could have one. We're delighted," says light department manager Jonathan Fitch. "Our wind turbine will become part of their world-renown collection."

Marc Greuther, curator for technology at The Henry Ford, says the museum already has several early examples of wind technology, including what is believed to be the oldest extant windmill in the US the Farris Family windmill, from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Originally used to grind corn, it was sent to The Henry Ford in the 1930s. The museum also has several examples of prairie water-pumping windmills.

"Wind is a technology worthy of more publicity and better understanding," says Greuther. "Our collection is utterly deficient in regards to the modern era -- the use of wind to make electricity. Acquiring the Enertech seemed like a perfect way of moving our collection forward."

Nature and people

The Henry Ford, begun early in the 20th century, emphasises the history of technology as it affects ordinary people. It also stresses the role that ordinary people like Ford, who grew up on a farm, and others played in the history of technological innovation.

"For me, wind is a wonderful union of technology and natural forces, an incredible example of a high technology, an advanced technology, that aims to derive power from a naturally occurring source without damaging that source. That speaks to the kind of enmeshing of nature and people that Henry Ford was interested in," says Greuther.

Fitch says the other seven Enertech turbines have been sold to individual homeowners in the region who intend to use them for private electricity production. "I'm delighted we're going to keep them running," he says. Princeton has had the eight turbines for about 20 years. It intends to replace them soon with two state-of-the-art 1.5 MW wind turbines.