UMPI has added a new feature to the page on its website that provides data for its wind turbine - the page now includes a spinning turbine. And unlike the actual $2 million plus turbine on the campus, it seems to spin all the time. Please see http://www.umpi.edu/wind/live and click on "Live Turbine Data".
What we would like to see is more comprehensive data reporting. Some suggestions:
1. Include dates - without any reference to time, the data have very little meaning
2. Provide a downloadable CSV file or Excel file that would provide data at minimum 10 minute intervals including output, wind speed, blade RPM's, exact time and date.
This could be very easily accommodated in Excel 2007 or CSV format. For example, the 495 days of operation since the commissioning on 5/14/09, would represent only 71,280 lines of data, using 10 minute intervals. (6 ten minute intervals per hour x 24 hours in a day x 495 days = 71,280 records).
Having the information in such machine readable data-friendly form would allow for useful analysis and would be consistent with the university's stated goal of "sharing all aspects of the project with area residents, the people of Maine, and all others who want to know where an alternative energy project can take them". http://www.umpi.edu/wind/project/experiences
Finally, because this represents a $2 million expenditure of university funds and a grant from the Maine Public Utilities Commission , there should be equally informative financial reporting, showing the exact data inputs and calculations used in determining reported savings. Because this is the only state experiment to date involving electricity production and use by an industrial size wind turbine, it is vital that such information is reported to the public to allow independent assessments of cost effectiveness.
Presently, at 495 days of operation, the turbine has produced only 770,684 KWH, or an average of 1,557 KWH per day. This is in stark contrast to the turbine's daily nameplate capacity of 14,400 KWH. (600 KW turbine x 24 hours in a day = 14,400). In fact, this represents a capacity factor of only 10.8% (1,557 daily KWH actual / 14,400 daily KWH nameplate).
This underperformance underscores a particular need to have the necessary data made available to understand how the university is projecting over $100,000 in annual savings in light of the $ 2 million that is tied up in the project as well as the associated maintenance costs, which will typically increase over time as the turbine ages.
As Maine and Mainers confront decisions regarding wind power, cost effectiveness is a critical consideration and it is essential that precise facts are provided so that any decisions influenced by observing UMPI's reported electrical and financial performance are wholly fact based and transparent. This would be important at any time, but is of particular importance in these trying economic times for Mainers and Maine businesses. With just about the highest electricity rates in the nation, a tremendous impediment to economic growth and jobs, we can ill afford not to have each and every energy option under the microscope.
There really can be no more free passes.