Yesterday, the Energy Safari course went to Lempster Wind Farm in Lempster, NH. We went on a lovely sunny day, which would have been great for the solar farm visit last week. Unfortunately, we went to the solar farm in the rain, and the wind farm on a clear, sunny day with almost no wind!
Bob Hargraves did an excellent blog post on our visit at the Energy Safari site. I am just adding my impressions.
The picture above shows the entrance to the wind facility. (If you enlarge it, you can see one of the turbines.) Unlike the solar farm, which is just a short walk from a few houses, with no locked gate, the wind facility is more heavily protected. There are moving parts overhead (it's all a hard-hat area) and people are not allowed to wander around it by themselves.
Several landowners still live within the wind farm boundaries, and I assume they can do as they choose about hard hats. (They probably signed something about liability. I am just guessing.) We were tourists, and we were well guided. Ed Cherian was the construction manager for the project, and he was our knowledgeable, patient and gracious host.
I admit I am rather fond of the photo on the right. We are standing at the base of one wind turbine, looking over at another wind turbine, and in between is a solar array to run a private communications tower.
Inside the Turbine Building
We had a great time and lots of access at the wind facility. At the left, you can see that they allowed us inside the turbine building. There's a readout there of the power production for the turbine. "Our turbine" went from negative production to positive production while we were there, as the wind picked up. Readout below.
However, I did find it frustrating that the owners would not tell us the price at which they sold their power. They don't have to tell us, I know. They are a private company, and have every right to their trade secrets. Bigger companies, like Hydro Quebec, also do not share that information. We don't have any right to have that information.
However, we are the "energy safari" course and it just makes it harder to assess the success of the first wind project in New Hampshire. In contrast, the solar farm sells their power according to the Vermont SPEED program. The solar farm people were quite straightforward about their production and prices.
It was a beautiful sunny day, and we had an excellent visit. We were allowed to see everything, everything was explained to us, and many aspects of the site were very impressive. For example, Iberdrola is very careful about safety. Everything is done from within the tower, or on the nacelle. Nobody is ever up there on scaffolding. If they need to work outside, like lowering a damaged rotor, they hire a crane. When the facility was under construction, they had helicopter landing pads in place to take any injured workers to the hospital. (The pads were not needed or used.)
The wind turbine base is sunk with 40 foot bolts into solid bedrock. The turbine itself is bolted to the concrete base. The bolts are covered with black plastic because otherwise they tend to collect minerals and salt, and therefore they attract moose. There's a lot of wildlife around the windfarm.
Factoid time: Why are wind turbines white or light grey? It's an FAA rule for pilot safety.
I will finish with the obligatory picture of the jolly group! For a more complete assessment of the visit, please go to Bob Hargraves excellent write-up. We are grateful to Iberdrola Renewables for the opportunity to visit their facility. Out on a hillside on a sunny autumn day in New Hampshire! It hardly gets better than this!