METRO VANCOUVER – BC Hydro and Grouse Mountain have reached an agreement that will allow the Eye of the Wind turbine to start producing power within a few weeks.
The turbine’s blades have been spinning for several months, but a disagreement over safety concerns from BC Hydro has kept it from being hooked up to the grid.
That appears to have been overcome thanks to some new equipment Grouse has agreed to install, said Hydro spokesman Dag Sharman.
“That will enable them to actually start generating. That was the last missing piece,” he said.
The dispute centered on the mechanisms that allowed the power generators to connect safely to the province’s electrical grid. One monitors the turbine’s electrical output for any anomalies and shuts it down in the event of an emergency, while another prevents energy produced by the turbine from flowing onto the public system.
Grouse said it had equipment that performed both functions, just not in the way Hydro specified. Following negotiations, the resort decided to add some extra components, including a new transformer, in order to get the green light from the utility.
“What was required was very specific. This is a custom-built wind turbine – there’s no other wind turbine like it in the world – so when we sourced the parts from other countries, there were parts that served the same purpose, but were not exactly the same,” said Grouse spokesman William Mbaho.
The turbine’s output is intended only to help power Grouse Mountain Resort, not be sold into the public grid. It will cut the mountain’s power bill by an estimated 25 per cent per year.
Mbaho declined to discuss the dollar figures, but in April BC Hydro estimated the cost of fixing the problem at $30,000. Neither BC Hydro nor Grouse could say definitively when the switch will be turned on, only that it will be in the next few weeks.
Mbaho emphasized that the wind turbine blades have been spinning for months now, with an average of a few hundred visitors making the trip to its lookout pod each day since it opened.
“The view pod will rotate with the blades, so you could be standing in it and you’re actually moving with the blades…which is a phenomenal feeling,” said Mbaho, who downplayed the disagreement between Grouse and Hydro.
“With any project of this magnitude there’s going to be questions on both sides as to what is the best way to go forward,” he said.
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