Year-old wind turbines at Sebastian airport not working; plagued by software glitches, voltage problems
SEBASTIAN – Two vertical wind turbines at the Sebastian Municipal Airport still are not operational almost a year after the City Council gave its approval to the project.
Software glitches and voltage problems have the turbines working only sporadically, according to airport director Joe Griffin.
“We’re not happy with the installation so far,” said Griffin. “They’re only working intermittently but they are under warranty.”
The two, 20-foot wind turbines adjacent to the new hanger “B” were supposed to generate enough energy from the wind to power security streetlights along Industrial Park Drive at the airport.
The wind turbines are mounted on a pole and spin on their own axis. They can operate in winds up to 110 mph and can be disassembled during hurricanes or tropical storms.
The power generated by the turbines would be allocated to Florida Power & Light Co. for a credit on the airport’s electric bill. Each turbine was expected to generate 3 kilowatt hours of energy.
The $60,000 contract for the installation of the turbines was issued to AFCO Construction Inc. of Boca Raton. The turbines were manufactured by Cleanfield Energy Systems in Ontario, Canada.
Griffin said both Cleanfield and AFCO Construction are trying to find a solution to the voltage problems that have plagued the installation since the beginning.
Last December, AFCO notified the city that it also would need to install four new conduits under the existing parking lot with sufficient separation to support the wind turbines. The space between the power, control and stop wires is necessary to make the turbines run properly.
Sean-Paul Ferrera, vice president of AFCO Construction, told Griffin by letter that the existing sleeves at the airport were bundled and the low and high voltage could not be placed adjacent to one another since it would create interference to the highly-sensitive controls found in the Cleanfield Turbine system.
Griffin is hopeful that the voltage problem can be cleared up over the next several weeks once AFCO and Cleanfield identify the software and installation issues.
“Some learning curve is to be expected,” Griffin said.
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