The wind that blows above Chautauqua County homes is an oil field waiting to be tapped, and Chautauqua Wind Energy wants to help area residents harness the free power supply.
A green energy company, the new local business intends to sell, install and maintain personal wind turbines in the 5- to 10-kilowatt range for individual use.
Different from the large-scale, utility-sized wind farms, Walter F. Rittman, president and CEO of Chautauqua Wind Energy, said his company will be in the ''small wind'' business. According to Rittman, the turbines installed by Chautauqua Wind Energy will generally be smaller than a tree and will be virtually silent.
Chautauqua Wind Energy plans to sell and install multiple types of wind turbine systems based on need and design. Pictured is a turbine offered by Helix Wind, a dealer with which Chautauqua Wind Energy hopes to do business.
Photos courtesy of Helix Wind
''The applications of these small wind turbines are almost endless,'' Rittman said. ''We will be doing everything from small ones which fit on your roof to the bigger ones that would theoretically eliminate your power need altogether from National Grid. Smaller ones would offset power usage and give a person an automatic 20 to 40 percent discount on their electric usage.''
In addition to Rittman, the Stow-based business is comprised of fellow area residents David E. Cherry, executive vice president and CFO, and Joseph Deault, general manager.
Working as a dealer, Chautauqua Wind Energy will offer a variety of types of wind turbines from several different manufacturers.
According to Rittman, the local company will offer both the vertical axis wind turbine systems and the horizontal axis wind turbine systems. Chautauqua Wind Energy will also work with individuals to custom design a system that works for the home based on the person's needs and wind availability.
Planning to target areas west of the Chautauqua Ridge to the Lake Erie Shoreline, Rittman said Chautauqua County is an ideal place because of its near-constant wind. With Class 3 winds, Rittman said Chautauqua County is home to an increasingly-valuable local resource.
A Chautauqua native and Jamestown Community College alumni, Rittman worked 10 years in radio production and 20 years at MTV Networks in sales and marketing- recently relocating from New York City to Ashville.
''Once I started looking at wind maps, I found the western area of Chautauqua County - as well as the county as a whole, Erie County and Cattaraugus County - is windier than normal,'' Rittman said. ''It turns out that New York state is the 15th windiest state in the union and the Western New York and Chautauqua area specifically is one of the windier areas in the state.''
Calling wind energy a power whose time has come, Rittman said the technology is becoming
''We saw a niche in the market that we think is something that is going to become increasingly popular,'' Rittman said, mentioning the nearest similar type of company is located in Rochester. ''We really want to just sort of establish ourselves as the Western New York leader of this new emerging renewable resource field.''
''I can't emphasize enough the forward-thinking nature of this type of stuff,'' Rittman continued. ''When you think of years down the road, these things are going to become way more visible, way more affordable, way more efficient and smaller. Everybody's going to be using them. This is going to become a normal part of people's homes.''
Chautauqua Wind Energy plans on being a member of the American Wind Energy Association and intends on working with such dealers as Bergey, Windterra and Helix Wind. Additionally, Rittman said he expects the company to be certified by the New York State Energy Research Development Authority. As such, Chautauqua Wind Energy will help its clients navigate the numerous assistance programs available through NYSERDA and other agencies to help defray the cost of initial purchase and set up of an individual wind turbine.
''The important thing that I want to get across is that the wind that goes over your home belongs to you,'' Rittman said. ''It's not something that you have to pay for. You can capture this wind and it's going to help you personally power your house. In a couple of years, electric cars are going to be a reality. And even if you just have one of these small turbines, it could be used to power your car. It would eliminate your need for fossil fuels for your transportation needs. And that's just one instance.''
In other scenarios, Rittman said a turbine atop a building on Third Street could power the WRFA radio station. Or a turbine at the top of a hill at the Peek'n Peak Resort and Spa could power a ski lift.
Still finishing forming, Rittman said Chautauqua Wind Energy expects to begin full operations in the fall.
For more information, visit www.post-journal.com, where this story includes links to some of makers and agencies involved in the sale and regulation of such wind turbines.