Wind Farm unbothered by storm

Fri, 11/03/2017 - 8:45am

While Tropical Storm Philippe battered the northeast, depositing heavy rain and hurricane-force winds on the fifth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy on Sunday, the 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm operated without missing a beat. That’s according to Deepwater Wind spokesperson Meaghan Wims, who told The Block Island Times that the wind farm stood tall during the storm. 

“For good stretches of this multi-day storm event, the Block Island Wind Farm was producing at or near its full capacity,” said Wims. 

“The maximum sustained winds we recorded at the site were in excess of 60 miles-per-hour during Sunday night, when the project shut down for several hours because wind speeds exceeded our operational top speed.”

The wind farm, constructed to withstand a 1,000-year storm, has a top wind speed threshold of 55 miles an hour. When wind speeds exceed 55 miles per hour the wind farm’s blades are automatically shut down and put into a protective, feathered posture until winds calm.

“Before dawn on Monday, wind speeds slowed back under 56 mph and the wind farm began producing power again,” said Wims. 

On Tuesday, the wind farm was operating four of its turbines; it doesn’t always operate all five turbines. Approximately one megawatt of energy is needed to power the island daily in the winter, or offseason, and about four megawatts during the busy summer season.

Philippe’s wind gusts approached 80 mph at Conimicut Light on Narragansett Bay. In its aftermath, almost half a million homes in Massachusetts and Rhode Island were without electricity for most of the day on Monday and into the evening. 

Deepwater Wind, the wind farm’s developer, has said that the turbines thrive in windy conditions, and storms pose no threat to their operation.