Art Gentemann 5 Jun 1980 Kokomo Tribune Kokomo IN (?)
Midway, Wash., is real-life laboratory for energy efforts MIDWAY, Wash. (AP) — Midway isn't on any maps; it's too small. Cold in the winter, hot in the summer summer — it's just what Bonneville Power Administration had in mind for a series of energy conservation experiments. "It's a ready-made laboratory. We can test the effectiveness of weatherization and solar systems in a real-life situation," said Jim Lynch, project manager for BPA. "The National Bureau of Standards Standards has a test house which has been weatherized and equipped with a computer that turns the lights off and on, opens the doors and keeps track of electricity usage. But no one lives there. "That data is valuable, but it's not the same as when people live in a house," said Lynch. There isn't much here — no store, no restaurant, no gas station, and about 70 residents. A sign in the window of one building says "Midway Union Sunday School." That's only true when a preacher can be coaxed to town for services. Eighteen houses, a combination dormitory-grade school, and a main BPA substation — that's Midway. The substation employees rent Che houses from the BPA and pay a set amount for utilities every month. Rich Dixon, his wife, and two small children live in a house fitted with a forced-air solar-heat system. Four other houses have been fitted with solar water heaters and five with heat-pump water heaters. In addition, 13 of the houses have been tightly insulated and seven of those have been equipped with storm windows and storm doors. So far, BPA has invested more than $100,000 in the program, proposed proposed more than two years ago when fears of a Northwest energy shortage shortage were growing and the cost of electricity climbing. Midway was built in the early 1940s, along the Columbia River in south-central Washington. Because it is so isolated, about 30 miles from Richland within sight of the Hanford Hanford nuclear reservation, BPA decided decided to provide housing for its employees — the only BPA substation substation that has housing. For the past year, the electricity consumption in all the houses at Midway has been monitored. Late last year, the laying of insulation, insulation, hanging of storm doors and windows and the installation of the heat pumps and solar systems was completed. "People have said they noticed an immediate difference with the weatherization," said Lynch. BPA contracted with private firms in the Northwest to install the solar systems and heat exchangers. "All of the systems can be bought commercially," said Art Gentemann, Gentemann, a BPA mechanical engineer. "We contracted with companies that could supply them." All of the solar systems are a little little different.