Wind farm now powering itself

Not by diesel-generated power
Sat, 02/04/2017 - 7:30am

The Block Island Wind Farm is operating on wind energy alone, and absent diesel-generated power from the Block Island Power Company, or any other source. That is what Deepwater Wind spokesperson Meaghan Wims told The Block Island Times.

“No, the wind farm is not running on diesel generators, it is running on wind power,” said Wims. The wind farm is “running off the wind.”

While the wind farm is undergoing repairs to turbine number two, which was damaged due to human error during manufacturing, its other four turbines are operational and delivering power to the mainland electrical grid through National Grid’s sea2shore cable. The repairs of turbine number two’s generator are expected to be completed within the next few weeks.

“Turbine two repairs are going well,” noted Wims. “That work remains on schedule.”

On Monday, The Times witnessed the lift-boat Lacie Eymard flanking turbine number two to conduct repair activities, while turbines one, three, and five were spinning, capturing wind energy. At that time, the wind farm’s other turbine, number four, was not operating.

Fisheries Liaison Elizabeth Marchetti stated in her mariner’s brief on Tuesday that the “scope of the work” on the turbine’s generator is nearly complete. She also said the Lacie Eymard will depart from the wind farm site this week, and “transit to Quonset for demobilization.”

According to National Grid, the five-turbine, 30-megawatt wind farm is capable of producing a daily peak capacity of 30 megawatts of electricity, depending on wind conditions. In the winter, Block Island’s daily demand is one megawatt with a population of about 1,000 people, and three to four megawatts of demand during the busier summer season when the population expands to 20,000 or more.   

David Graves, National Grid’s Media Relations Director, told The Times that the energy produced by the wind farm will go directly into BIPCo’s system when the power company is ready to receive that electricity. “Power will go from the wind farm to our substation and then into the BIPCo system,” said Graves. “The only time BIPCo will take power from the mainland through our undersea cable will be when the wind farm is not able to meet the power demands of the island.”

Graves said the time frame for when Block Island is supposed to receive energy from the wind farm looks on track for “late March or early April.” National Grid needs to rebury 80 feet of submarine cable at a depth of six feet off of the Town Beach. National Grid’s sea2shore cable will be deactivated, meaning that power will be turned off, during the reburial process. “No plan associated with the cable reburial has been put in place as yet,” he said.

“We have some additional construction to do,” added Graves. “That will be followed by testing, but the timeline, hopefully March, is still valid” for the island to be receiving wind-generated energy.