A discussion was held in the Common Council Chamber at City Hall Monday that could make the City of Oswego the first place in America with a design of electric-generating wind turbines currently only seen in Belgium.
Bruce Cranston, representing the New England Windpower Corporation (NEWC), presented preliminary details on the scheme that would place five turbines close to the shore of Lake Ontario. Unlike the traditional wind turbines common in wind farms across the world, the new design is more efficient and affordable. Instead of a large fan-like device, which requires 86 square yards per unit, the new design resembles a tube that only needs 8 square feet of room per unit. Each unit contains what Cranston referred to as “donuts” that contain two motors. One unit can hold up to five donuts or 10 fans. The fans are comprised of “smart blades,” which seek out the optimum wind direction and can also stave off snow and ice.
Based on the models in Belgium, if turbines were to be built in Oswego it would not only save the city money, but eventually earn money. In Belgium, a $2.5 million investment returned $996,450 in revenues per year. Within three years they broke even.
And since each motor within a turbine can be maintained individually, the maintenance time is also dramatically decreased compared to the traditional design. The models in Belgium have had 5,694 hours of operating time with only 27 hours of down time for maintenance.
“It’s really exciting technology,” said Cranston. “It’s what America was built on. People taking chances and being pioneers, if you will. We can rid ourselves of the demand for natural gas.”
“It eliminates just about every environmental issue,” he added later, noting that the new design has no electromagnetic static, has no whooshing noise, does not cast shadows from the props and cannot suck birds or other wildlife into the fans.
Although it’s still very preliminary, the proposed plan would have NEWC leasing the machinery to the city for 99 years, wherein they would be responsible for any maintenance throughout the life of the lease. Four of the turbines would be owned by NEWC and the city would own the rights to the last one, said Mayor Randy Bateman. “There are a lot of variables, but if (each turbine generates) two megawatts, the city would earn $1 million per year,” he said.”
Currently, a plot of land between north of the water treatment plant and west of the NRG site near the SUNY Oswego campus is being eyed for construction. It lies north of West Schuyler Street between Sheldon Avenue and Sixth Avenue. “The space is perfect,” said Cranston. “It’s really almost electricity nirvana.”
If the plan were to go through, Cranston said that 10 months would be a ballpark figure for the time it would take start construction until the turbines will actually generate electricity.
By Colin Kennedy
1 August 2007
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