Transition Whatcom


Alternative Energy

Our group is working on small inexpensive residential energy generation devices that can be built locally.

Location: Bellingham
Members: 39
Latest Activity: Nov 13, 2013

Discussion Forum

Sustainable Alternative Energy

Started by Behrouz Aug 24, 2011. 0 Replies

I am a new member.  It is nice to see an interest group in this area, after all energy is what runs the world and fossil fuels have proven to be a dead-end especially in their mega-industrial usage…Continue

Wanting to build a Bicycle Generator

Started by Travis Linds. Last reply by Laura J Sellens Jan 10, 2011. 4 Replies

I am wanting to build a bicycle powered generator. Anyone interested in helping me? I have an old, small gas powered generator with a blown engine, I was going to try to use that as the generator.…Continue

Small scale biogas digesters built with local material by local people.

Started by Travis Linds. Last reply by Travis Linds Apr 15, 2010. 14 Replies

I'd like to include discussions regarding biogas generation in this group, if no one objects.Brian from Inspiration Farms and I have discussed and plan on building a small scale biogas digester this…Continue

Classes for Renewable Energy

Started by Shannon Maris Nov 30, 2009. 0 Replies

Hi there...I co-ordinate the Bellingham Chapter of Solar WA which educates the public on renewable energy options.See the list of classes below on renewable energy that are excellent. If you are just…Continue

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of Alternative Energy to add comments!

Comment by Heather K on March 29, 2010 at 10:54pm
A message from Jeffrey Madison Utter to all members of Alternative Energy on Transition Whatcom! (per 3/29 email)

"There are many ways to produce power on a small scale at home...small wind generators, home built steam engines, excercise machines, how about hooking a hose to a small hydro generator (if your not metered yet). Once the power is generated, what do you do with it then?

You can charge a battery and use a DC system to power lights or a radio or some other Direct Current that point your reallly running a parelell system to the Alternating Current already coursing through the wires, outlets and switches in your home.
Conventional alternative energy systems use an inverter that synchronizes with the grid and blends any power produced with the power distributed by the utility....awfully difficult to manufacture at home...especially to convince the utility and electrical inspector that it meets UL criterea (there's a good reason for this...which I won't get into now).
I believe that the most essential aspect of alternative energy is to match the generation source as closely as possible to the desired use. For example...a methane digester would make excellent fuel for burning (VS combusting it in a fossil fuel generator to produce electricity). Bicycles make pretty damned good transportation....but when it comes down to producing electricity from them....even Lance Armstrong would have a difficult time lighting up a 100 watt bulb. Solar tubes, on the other hand, have excellent lighting long as its light out.

Just some thoughts...this is fun stuff to play with...I have to wonder sometime what will really transition us as a culture onto a more sustainable path....I keep coming back to 'being satisfied with a whole lot less than what I'm currently used to'.
Comment by Janet Senour on December 8, 2009 at 8:48pm
I am not a purist about using recycled materials. If none can be found when they are needed, I would have no problem using new. However, I would always be on the lookout for recycled material. I think we have taken enough materials out of the earth to keep us going for hundreds of years if we all got together and manufactured with recycled materials.

We are getting closer to a prototype of our wind generator. Does anyone know someone who is good with molding fiberglass or any other semi-rigid or rigid, thin and lightweight material?
Janet Senour
Comment by Shannon Maris on December 4, 2009 at 10:30am
A couple other community events:

Hey there!
How are you?
Here's a couple cool things happening related to Community Power...



Begin forwarded message:

Subject: FYI:Community Power presentations

Our next Built Green Meeting is this Monday, December 7th from 12-1:30 at the BIAWC Office. We’ll be listening to Terry Meyers from Cascade Community Wind Company discussing this alternative means to directly connect your electrical source with a clean, smart and responsible energy source-without having to persuade your neighbors into accepting guide wires in their yards.

We will also have a sneak preview at our finalized five-star program while it is still under review by the city…

Please RSVP by 10 AM on Monday, December 7th!

Kristina Daheim
Built Green® Coordinator
Building Industry Association of Whatcom
1650 Baker Creek Place
Bellingham, WA 98226
360.671.4247 ext. 6


WEDS. DEC 9th @ 7 PM
REStore - upstairs Classroom

TOM ANDERSON speaking on:
Legislative Change and Community Solar : Providing New Possibilities

The 2009 legislature modified the rules for the Washington State “Alternative Energy Cost Recovery Incentive” program, making private solar installations more economical and creating a new opportunity by creating a “Community Solar Project” option.

Come learn about how the new rules affect the economics of your private solar installation and how a Community Solar Project could:
Provide you a positive financial return on an investment in a solar installation,
Provide a local non profit with long term stable funding and
Reduce the cost of local government.
Tom Anderson a local engineer and partner in Advanced Solar Energy LLC will be speaking about the legislative changes and the newly created “Community Solar Project” option.
Comment by Ro Donelson on December 3, 2009 at 9:02am
I agree with your premise that using only recycled parts is restricting. In the best case scenario the parts would be readily available, but when they are not easily obtained, I vote for building with new. Perhaps there are some of us who could be on the look out for parts that will be/are needed and warehouse them. Creating a restore warehouse of sorts. I realize just yesterday I passed an exercycle sitting by the roadside with a free sign. I'll go out today and see whether it is still available... Beyond bicycles, what else should I be on the look out for??? This is a steep learning curve for me, but I am an eager student willing to help out in any way I can.
Comment by Ed Lofquist on December 2, 2009 at 9:41pm
What you suggest would certainly work after a fashion but you speak of modifications and to believe the proper parts are going to turn up as recycled materials is quite a stretch. I think to make any real progress with any project we need to modify the original premise for this group that ALL parts used need to be entirely recycled materials. See my comment 11-26-09. I'm really dismayed no one was willing to step up and deal with this. This requirement creates a situation in the real world where nearly everything becomes impossible to accomplish. If we can get past the passion and dogma many worthwhile projects can happen.
On a different note I like the bicycle idea better because its gonna take a lot of peddling and most ladies are more interested in working on their thighs more than their calves and ankles.
Inventor Ed signing off for the night.
Comment by Terese VanAssche on December 2, 2009 at 2:30pm
Hello all ~
Has anyone experimented with using old treadle sewing machines for power generation? I think if the a gear displacement were changed between the treadle wheel and another gear this would create more power generation, like changing gears on a bike. It seems like a plausible idea, and I have 2 treadle sewing machines that have been used for a multitude of things ~ sewing triple layer tent canvas for tipi lodges, leather stitching, and general clothing creation.
Think: flour grinding, water pumping, battery storage, etc. What type of batteries would be recommended?
Has anyone tried these for power generation?
Comment by Ed Lofquist on November 26, 2009 at 10:11pm
I can think of many alternative energy projects that are well worth the effort but I think requiring them to be made entirely from recycled materials is too restrictive and counter productive.
Comment by Kate Clark on November 15, 2009 at 9:30pm
I would like to find out more about a stationary bike that could charge batteries, which could then be used later for multiple purposes. I have heard this is feasible...also, if a unit could be developed that attaches to a bike (which has been rendered stationary by being on a stand) that then charges a large battery or batteries, this would be a great 'green' business opportunity. Especially if some of it could be built with recycled materials. Any thoughts about this anybody?
Comment by Janet Senour on November 10, 2009 at 7:50am
Terese: Any structure near yours will affect the solar and wind available to your residence. If it is north of you the solar effect will be minimal. But that brings up something I had not thought about: if you are in a location where new buildings may be constructed,it would be to your benefit to have solar and/or wind generation devices that can be relocated on your house or property. That may be asking a lot, but I have seen solar panels made to be portable. I heard about a guy in California who cut down his neighbors trees that grew up and shaded his solar panels. We don't want to go down that road!
Comment by Terese VanAssche on November 9, 2009 at 5:23pm
Hi all,

I am also interested in converting Fern Hollow, my 1911 Craftsman sanctuary into off-the-grid as much as possible; the house is equipped with a gas-fired steam boiler for heat, so is more efficient than some systems. We may install a wood stove, though I have concerns about air quality. Also heard of a great solar oil-filled matrix that could be hooked to a steam-boiler system, as all the copper piping is in! (thanks to the previous owners, as this would be cost-prohibitive now.) I am a civil engineer, sounds like we have a bunch of folks with the technological knowledge to design some great alternative energy systems. Does anyone have experience with the small wind-generators that are in use in the UK, they attach to the side of your building? Also have concerns about the solar, as a large building is going up across the street from us, and though my home is 2 1/2 stories, will the tall buildings potentially cut the amount of passive solar that we get?
Any help, comments, please!

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