KENNEBUNKPORT — Walker's Point is a little greener these days. Last week, a 33-foot-tall windmill was installed to generate electricity for the oceanfront home of former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara. The Bushes decided to buy and install a windmill after being approached by Southwest Windpower, a nationwide company that manufactures wind turbines, said Jim Appleby, personal aide to the former president. "After looking at the specifications, the pros and the cons, they decided that they'd give it a try," he said. The wind turbine, a Skystream 3.7 model, is capable of generating electricity once wind speed reaches 8 mph, said Bob Greig, president of All Season Home Improvement Co. in Augusta, which installed the windmill. The structure can produce an estimated 400 kilowatts a month at a wind speed of 12 mph. An average household uses about 600 kilowatts a month, Greig said. The Skystream model connects to the utility grid, Greig said. When the turbine does not produce enough electricity, a home will start drawing electricity from its power company. If the turbine produces excess energy, the excess will feed into the grid and the homeowner will receive credits from the power company. The Bushes' summer home needs little power during the winter, Greig said, so the wind turbine will likely feed energy to Central Maine Power Co. "When he comes up, he should have a substantial credit on his bill to start off the summer," Greig said of Bush. Bruce MacDonald, a member of Gov. John Baldacci's wind power task force, said increased visibility for small windmills is positive. The task force is working to encourage wind turbines at schools to increase their visibility among younger generations, said MacDonald, a state legislator from Boothbay. A windmill at Walker's Point, which is a popular stop for visitors, could also increase that visibility, he said. "I think they're a good thing," MacDonald said. "It's happening right now. People are looking for alternatives" to power their homes. Appleby said the Bushes opted for the windmill for financial and environmental reasons. Wind power produces no pollution.
Bush made some environmental strides during his term as president, reauthorizing the Clean Air Act in 1990, which established higher standards for air quality and required cleaner-burning fuels.