Betsy Hutton atop a wind generator on Bordeaux Mountain in the early 1980s.
When Betsy Hutton read about the new wind generator atop Bordeaux Mountain in the December 20, 2010-January 2, 2011 issue of St. John Tradewinds, she had to laugh.
“First wind generator on Bordeaux,” said Hutton, who owns Virgin Java Coffee and founded Beni Iguana Sushi before passing the business on to her son. “Sorry, but I was doing this back in 1983 on Bordeaux. We had no power for 10 years.”
Hutton, her then-husband and several other Bordeaux residents were “green” long before the term became a catchphrase for post-consumer backlash, the former St. John resident recalled.
In the 1980s, residents on Bordeaux, and many other areas of St. John, were forced to be “green” because there simply was no power, according to Hutton. Instead they pioneered “green” energy and even started the business “Winddependence.”
“We had no WAPA up there back then,” said Hutton. “There was no electricity and no phones. You had to go to the pay phone outside of the fire station down in Coral Bay if you wanted to use a phone.”
Charging 30 golf cart batteries with solar panels and the wind generator, Hutton and her family eked out a comfortable life on Bordeaux, which was then a pretty remote neighborhood with only a few residents. While Hutton has fond memories of her Bordeaux time, it was hard work, she added.
“I would have to climb that tower in the middle of the night and pull the brake because the wind was blowing so hard you thought it was going to take off flying,” said Hutton. “In one of the pictures, I’m up there cleaning the panels with Q-Tips and gasoline. It was a lot of work.”
It might be safe to say, however, that the latest wind generator on Bordeaux is the first permitted such structure to rise on the island. Back in the 1980s when Hutton erected her tower, the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources didn’t exactly have oversight of the area.