The wind turbine installed at the Prince County Exhibitions grounds in Alberton has been underperforming after over a year of operation.
The turbine, a structure standing 30 metres in height with blades spanning 35 feet, was first established at the site in September of 2011.
According to the CEO of Wind Energy Institute of Canada at North Point, Scott Harper, the Alberton turbine had electrical faults after it was installed, which had to be dealt with before it could perform properly. Since all serious issues were dealt with in March of 2012, the Wing Energy Institute, and the company responsible for building the turbine, Seaforth Energy, have both been keeping a close eye on the project. Initial reports aren’t promising.
It was hoped the turbine would produce 45 per cent of the Alberton Jacques Cartier Memorial arena’s annual $28,000-$36,000 electricity bill, an estimated $18,000 annually (138,000 kw). Since its installation, however, reports claim it’s only produced $6,300 worth of electricity since September of 2011.
“It’s disappointing,” commented past president of the Jacques Cartier Arena’s operating committee Alan Rennie. “[The turbine] isn’t paying its own way.”
Mr Rennie has worked closely with the turbine project since its undertaking in Alberton, and according to him, the costs of maintaining and operating the turbine presently out-way the benefits of having it. Insurance costs alone for the turbine amount to $2,500 a year, and the yearly loan payments are $10,000. When the project was first approved in Alberton, the community promised to pay $70,000 of the turbine’s cost, the rest being met my government incentives. The community is paying its share in $10,000 installments each year.
According to Mr Harper, the Wind Energy Institute, and Seaforth Energy, have been working to increase the turbine’s energy output with modifications to its mechanisms and settings. Mr Harper explains this is a lengthy process, in which operators must observe how the turbine performs at different settings in different seasons. Hopes are still high for this winter season, which is the strongest for wind. It was also acknowledged by both Mr Harper and Mr Rennie that 2012 was a year of weak winds. There was roughly 20-30 per cent less wind than in previous years, decreasing the machine’s performance dramatically.
Mr Harper and the operators of the turbine are remaining optimistic, and are still working towards improving power output. They are also searching for a more reasonable insurance plan to soften maintenance costs. Mr Rennie is also maintaining patient with the project. “We’re hoping they can improve the turbine’s performance,” commented Mr Rennie. “We don’t have much of a choice. We made a deal, and we have to stick to our deal.”
The Alberton project, costing in excess of $300,000, received $164,000 from the Federal Gas Tax Fund, administered by the provincial department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. A total of $87,250 in funding is also being provided by the Trust Fund for Clean Air and Climate Change, administered by the provincial department of Environment, Energy and Forestry. The Jacques Cartier Arena is responsible for a $70,000 share. There were four such turbines installed at rinks across the island as part of this project.
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