By DAVID GREEN
After an initial delay and some early problems, Fayette’s school wind turbine is spinning away and turning out the kilowatts.
Although it’s impossible at this time to determine how much the school district is saving in utility costs, superintendent of schools Russell Griggs does receive a running total of electricity generated.
On the evening of April 18, the new turbine had generated 56,046 kilowatts, but a windy week since then has increased the total substantially.
In one four-day period in mid-April, 9,204 kW were produced, including a single-day high of 3,178.
“A few days with 28 mph winds makes a big difference,” Griggs said.
Too much wind, however, shuts the unit down.
Gusty, shifting winds are interpreted by the computer controlling the unit as a turbulent imbalance, Griggs explained. When that happens, a text message is sent to a school maintenance staff member.
After making a visual check of the turbine, the unit is restarted if no problems are detected.
Electrical generation begins with a wind of 8 mph, although the blades will slowly spin at slower wind speeds.
Griggs said an unexpected benefit of the system was discovered once the turbine began operating. The transformer is housed in the school’s new maintenance building. Heat from the transformer is sufficient to warm the building in the winter months.
Griggs had initially planned to display turbine data on the school’s website so anyone could check out wind speed and electrical data from recent weeks, but that ended when he learned there was an annual connection fee of $1,000. Instead, only one person at a time is allowed to log in to the turbine company’s database in the Netherlands.