It’s been a windy month here in Barnstable.
Last week, two 180-foot tall Vermont-made Northern Power wind turbines were erected at the Barnstable Wastewater Treatment plant. Each turbine will produce around 100 kilowatts of energy, with the other approximately 790 kW coming from a still-under-construction solar photovoltaic array located on the plant’s filtration beds.
“We’re just finishing up testing for commissioning,” said DPW Senior Projects Manager Dr. Dale Saad. “We’re putting a load across them, making sure it all works. Right after that, we’ll shut it down and wait for NStar to tell us we’re ready to connect.”
Saad said they’re “hoping for a Christmas gift” of the $1.7 million turbines being online by year’s end. The entire system, solar included, is scheduled to be completely operational by April 1, 2011. Once everything is up and running, it should account for nearly 50 percent of the treatment plant’s annual energy, and that of several offsite pump stations, cutting their $30,000 monthly electric bill by half.
The project was primarily funded by a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment act.
Saad claimed the process has been largely without public complaint, due perhaps to its somewhat remote location.
“We had a public meeting a couple summers ago, and opened it up for public comment,” she related. “One guy got up to the microphone, and he looked mad. I thought, ‘Oh no, here we go…’ but he just asked, ‘What took so long, and why aren’t you doing more?’”
Not everyone is happy about the growing proliferation of land-based wind turbines. During the month of October, newly formed anti-wind energy group Windwise Cape Cod hosted a three-speaker series at Cape Cod Community College, decrying what they felt to be the many deceits of the wind energy industry. In discussions of what they felt were health effects due to noise and vibration, destruction of endangered species, lowering of property values and a poor cost-to-benefit ratio, the 50-plus person assemblies articulated their growing distrust of this particular green energy.
Country Garden in Hyannis, which has a 150-foot turbine on its seven-acre West Main Street lot, fielded a complaint due to what’s known as shadow flicker, caused when the sun casts a flickering shadow on a stationary object.
“We’ve agreed to a voluntary shutdown of an hour and a half during the period when the flicker would occur,” said part-owner Diana Duffley. “It only occurs November to February, when the sun is low in the sky. We haven’t had any further complaints, so I think this resolved it.”
Duffley added that in 2009 the turbine provided just over 71 percent of their total electrical needs, giving them an almost $16,000 return on investment for the year. She also said that during 2009 the turbine was cumulatively offline for about a month’s time, due to some mechanical snafus including a slight vibration in the blades. She stressed that there was no danger, however.
“The turbine has a lot of safety features, controlled by a computer,” Duffley noted. “There’s no guesswork involved.”
Country Garden will be continuing in the green direction, with a shade cloth in front of their greenhouse to lock in heat, as well as switching to a condensing boiler for that heat, which will bring them from 70 to 90 percent efficiency.
Partly in response to the growing public concern over wind, the Barnstable Assembly of Delegates committee on government regulations voted 3-2 on Nov. 3 to recommend imposing wind regulations to the full assembly during the Nov. 17 full meeting. Under the proposed regulations, which would pertain only to projects reviewed by the Commission, a turbine would have to be located more than 1.5 times the windmill’s height in distance from neighboring owners’ buildings. Turbines of more than one megawatt in power would be required to prove that there would be no adverse effects from shadow flicker, and be subject to a noise study. All wind projects would have to show preparations for maintenance and eventual decommissioning.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding