The turbine was an initiative of the Board of Selectmen prior to the Town Manager Act. It was intended to be a demonstration project as a precursor to a potentially bigger turbine with the most likely sites either on the Lutheran Church hill or behind the high school. The energy consultant hired by the Board of Selectmen used state wind atlases and predicted the turbine would generate enough power for approximately 50% of the Pond Street WTP’s demand (approx. $50,000 in savings per year). It was hoped that a local manufacturer that had purchased rights to proven wind technology out of Europe would ramp up local turbine production. This never materialized.
The project was designed and procured in accordance with Mass General Laws. The Selectmen’s consultant struggled to understand the state’s procurement process and as
such, they were advised to partner with a traditional engineering firm which they did. Due to the lack of an American-made product in the size that we wanted, the low bidder
turned to an India-based manufacturer. The manufacturer experienced production delays. There were also issues associated with shipping, including the alleged theft of a major controller while in transit to the US. During construction, the vendor had supply chain issues that were caught and corrected during commissioning.
The selected turbine, a 250/50 KW SIVA turbine, has two generators. The lower 50 KW generator works when winds are light. The 250 KW generator kicks in when winds exceed
a certain threshold. In practice, the amount of wind available to kick in the higher generator was not available as often as predicted by the consultant and the State’s wind atlas. As such, the turbine spun but never met the anticipated energy output. The commissioning process stalled as the vendor struggled to solve the problems that came up. DPW was unable to push the process through. The Town Manager took over and he too was unable to advance the process. Ultimately the Town pulled the bond and forced the bonding company to meet the expectations. It was a long, drawn-out process.
Prior to construction, the maintenance costs were estimated at $15,000 per year. They turned out to be $35,000 per year. The generator only had enough wind and up-time to produce an estimated $15,000 $20,000 a year in energy. Land-based wind as a source of renewable energy proved to have many challenges and was ultimately overtaken by advances in the solar market which simply were not available at the time we started this process.