UMPI Spins Turbine - Get Out The Microscope

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.

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Comment by alice mckay barnett on September 21, 2010 at 9:46pm
thank you for clarity in this mess.
Comment by Harrison Roper on September 21, 2010 at 3:41pm
Thank you, Long Islander, for today's (9/21) comment on "UMPI Spins The Turbine". I hope someone at UMPI is paying attention. Your mastery and clear presentation of this complex subject is valuable.
I also like the redesign of the monthly UMPI Turbine Progress Report, which states boldly and clearly the 10.81 " percentage of Nameplate KWH achieved" . That is a convincing way to put it.
Also, your readers may not know that one characteristicof huge machines is that their drive shafts must be kept turning (to avoid warping) even not workis being done. I haveheard that large ships do this, even when tied up in a harbor. I think our iconic turbines are kept turning for the same reason.
According to the Live Turbine Data page, when thereis no wind frequently the UMPI turbine is turning at about half speed even though the power is variable, and it ussually reports MINUS .3 or minus .6kw, and the undated "power" (which appaarently means net power produced since comissioning in May 2009) And, yes, thank you for sticking to the 1.000,000 KWH originally claimed until a clear and complete explanation of the change, INCLUDING DATES, is offered.
Harry Roper Houlton/Danforth

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT (excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010  http://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?"  http://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.” http://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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