Despite initial concerns that it would become a test case, the Princeton Municipal Light Department has opted to purchase Furhlander wind turbines at a cost savings of nearly $1.4 million.
The light department chose the German-made turbines over American-made General Electric turbines, and it is looking to finalize a purchase order by June 1.
The turbines are part of a comprehensive proposal submitted to the light department that also includes two 1.5 Megawatt turbines, towers, road and foundation construction, and installation.
Lumus Construction of Woburn submitted a comprehensive proposal at a cost of $6.4 million for the Fuhrlander turbines, while Patriot Renewables of Quincy submitted a $7.8 million proposal for the General Electric turbines. Both proposals satisfied the project specifications.
Due to the significant price differential between the two bids, Light Department manager Jonathan V. Fitch commissioned an energy analysis from Global Energy Concepts, which determined that the turbines produced the same amount of energy.
“We were concerned that the Fuhrlander would produce less (than the GE turbines),” Mr. Fitch said. “The estimates were even higher than we originally estimated. We promised the ratepayers that they would produce 8.1 million kilowatts, and the estimates came in at 9 million kilowatts.
“We’re certainly going to meet the expectation of producing 40 percent of the town’s energy,” he said.
Mr. Fitch also researched Furhlander’s presence in the United States.
“We found that there’s a private firm in Gloucester with a Furhlander turbine, that they’re setting up a sales office in New York and that they had a patent issue with GE that they hadn’t gotten around to settling, which delayed their entry into the U.S.”
Mr. Fitch, who traveled to Germany to meet with Fuhrlander representatives, said he liked Fuhrlander because it was a smaller company, for which the light department is not too small a customer.
“They’re willing to work with us one on one,” Mr. Fitch said.
With the Electric Light Commission’s support, Mr. Fitch has entered into negotiations with Lumus Construction, and is hoping to have a contract signed and executed and a down payment made by June 1.
“I’m starting to build a construction schedule that starts immediately after that,” Mr. Fitch said. “We have a meeting on May 4th with the DCR (Department of Conservation and Recreation) to make sure that we don’t impact the reservation.”
The financing piece remains to be finalized.
“I’m trying to get a construction or bridge loan, so that we don’t have to be paying for the turbines and the construction until they’re operational,” Mr. Fitch said. “I’m working with the Mass. Municipal Wholesale Electric Co. to try and secure the financing.”
Assuming the financing is in place, construction crews will begin to clear the site, build the access road and the foundations for the turbines during the summer and be finished before the fall foliage season.
“Part of our agreement with the DCR is that no work can be done in the fall,” Mr. Fitch said. “This meets our intent to work with DCR.”
Mr. Fitch said that once the site construction is completed, he will be waiting for the turbines to be delivered in the spring of 2008.
“There’s a long lead time on the turbines,” he said. “It can be a year or more.”
By Sandy Meindersma
26 April 2007
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