FAIRHAVEN – The first turbine is up and is already looming over the landscape. The second turbine is close behind.
Sumul Shah of Solaya, one of the investors in Fairhaven Wind LLC, took the press on a tour of the second site Tuesday morning. He said the second turbine is on schedule and should be completed by Earth Day, April 22, as planned.
In answer to questions, Mr. Shah said wind energy has become more profitable now than it was just 10 years ago because with more being built, costs have come down. He said with more suppliers, there is more competition, “which drives down costs.”
Mr. Shah said government incentives, including tax breaks, are also causing the industry to expand.
Mr. Shah showed off the power converter, which he said is often called the turbine’s brain. The converter houses the software; it has nearly 1,000 different sensors and different control points.
“It’s really the software that drives this,” he said.
Mr. Shah said he can actually make adjustments from his cell phone.
While the turbines were designed by Semiconductor in Massachusetts and some parts were manufactured in Wisconsin, the parts were shipped to China for assembly.
“In truth, all turbines are really global products now,” Mr. Shah said.
Asked about the workers from China who were at the Fairhaven site, he said they are finishing the assembly that could not be done in China because of the way pieces are moved.
Mr. Shah said the parts made in China are under warranty, so the company there must make sure everything is installed to the proper specifications.
The turbines are programmed to shut down in winds of more than 50 miles per hour. Mr. Shah said the Fairhaven site has moderate winds.
“Different turbines are rated for different wind conditions. This was created for a moderate site.”
By comparison, of the turbines being planned for off Nantucket, he said, “That was designed for more robust winds.”
He described the blades as acting like an airplane.
“It’s the air flow around the blades – the wind creates an uplift like an airplane,” he said.
The town’s executive secretary, Jeffrey W. Osuch, said noise studies were done all around the perimeter to make sure the wind turbine doesn’t exceed the noise level limits under town bylaws or state law.
The town will get $100,000 a year in lease income from the turbines. It will buy electricity at 7.43 cents per kilowatt hour.
The parent company of Solaya, which Mr. Shah works for, mostly does historic restoration, he said. He said they have worked on presidential homes and libraries and the Statue of Liberty. Among the more complicated projects was lifting the Alexander Hamilton house in New York and sliding over rails, including over a church, to a new location four blocks away with more land around it.
The company also did complex work for Homeland Security, Mr. Shah said, like an underground power plant. He said working on such complex utilities for Homeland Security led the company into solar and eventually wind energy.