DARTMOUTH – A year after contractors broke ground, the UMass Dartmouth wind turbine’s final 30-day test is under way, and officials hope to commission the machine in the coming weeks, state spokeswoman Alex Zaroulis said.
Engineers will run the turbine under normal conditions for 30 days to make sure its systems work properly, Zaroulis said. If an issue pops up during the test, the problem will need to be corrected and the test started over, she said.
The university and state Division of Capital Asset Management broke ground on the 600-kilowatt turbine last December and erected it in April but found issues requiring repairs shortly thereafter.
The turbine, which the state originally intended to build at Cape Cod Community College, cost $2.1 million to purchase from its manufacturer Elecon Engineering Company Ltd., Zaroulis said.
Erecting the turbine cost $1.2 million and the repair bill following its installation ran to $230,000, she said.
Contractors encountered problems when they first tried tying the turbine to the grid in July.
The machine then caused months of headaches for engineers as hydraulic problems, damaged parts and issues with the wind speed sensors delayed its commissioning, which is when the state will officially turn it over to UMass Dartmouth.
Once the turbine becomes fully operational, students will be able to log in to a web-based “dashboard” showing how much energy it generates, how much power is consumed in six of the campus’ 13 residence halls and how much electricity is being produced by the university’s 269-kilowatt solar panel array, said Jamie Jacquart, assistant director of the Office of Campus and Community Sustainability.
The university expects to save $125,000 per year in energy bills once the turbine is operational, and the unit has a lifespan of 20 years, he said.
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