Wind Farm weathers Jose

Some turbines down for maintenance
Fri, 09/29/2017 - 7:45am

The operation of the Block Island Wind Farm was impacted by Hurricane Jose last week; only not in the way that one might think. While only two of the wind farm’s five six-megawatt turbines were capturing wind on Thursday, Sept. 21, it didn’t mean the other three turbines were inoperable due to high winds, but rather routine maintenance.

That’s according to Meaghan Wims, spokesperson for Deepwater Wind, the project’s Providence based developer, who told The Times on Sept. 21 that, “We are completing our annual maintenance program this month, so not all machines are available every day. Because of the storm, we won’t send crews out to finish that work until the sea state improves.”

“The turbines are designed to automatically shut down if sustained winds reach 55 miles-per-hour,” said Wims, noting that Deepwater Wind CEO Jeff Grybowski once said, “In the offshore wind industry we like big storms.” 

In a press release issued by the company in March of 2017, Deepwater Wind asserted that the Block Island Wind Farm had a “strong performance during the season’s worst winter conditions.” The press release noted that the wind farm produced clean power throughout winter storm Stella, “except for a window of several hours when sustained wind speeds exceeded 55 miles an hour. That’s the designated high-wind limit when the wind farm is designed to automatically power down and feather its blades until winds calm.”

Block Island Power Company President Jeffery Wright told The Times that, “There were no issues at all with the cable or mainland delivery system throughout (Hurricane Jose). We had one small power outage that affected about eight customers but that was it. We were all very pleased.”

Wright said the wind farm operating on two turbines does not impact the island from an energy standpoint. “Two (turbines) would absolutely cover the island’s needs,” he said. “Our load right now is about two megawatts, or one-third of the output of one turbine, which is six megawatts of maximum output.”

To clear up some confusion regarding the island’s connection to the wind farm, Wright reiterated to The Times that the island receives wind-generated energy directly from the wind farm. That means that the wind captured by the wind farm generates electrons that flow directly into the island’s power grid and to its ratepayers.

During an interview with The Times in April, Wright explained it this way: “If the wind farm is generating and transporting power to the mainland via the cable, BIPCo is using electrons supplied by the wind farm before they head across to the mainland. If the wind is not generating, the power flows are reversed on the cable, and our electrons are then coming from the Independent System Operators of New England grid.”