Cities

Report: Costly wind turbines projected to yield $1.39 in daily savings

Molly Line reports from Falmouth

 

A small Washington state city spent more than $100,000 on three “windmill-like turbines” – but any hopes for big savings appear to be blowing in the wind.

The Peninsula Daily News reported that the Port Angeles turbines, which haven’t yet been turned on, are expected to generate $1.39 per day in electricity, or roughly $42 per month.

The turbines were meant to help illuminate a local park. Now, some city council members are having second thoughts about their unanimous approval for the project.

“I did not realize they would produce so little energy. I wouldn’t have voted for it knowing it was that little,” City Councilwoman Sissi Bruch told The Peninsula Daily News.

“I did not realize they would produce so little energy. I wouldn’t have voted for it knowing it was that little,” City Councilwoman Sissi Bruch told The Peninsula Daily News.

Bruch later told Foxnews.com she was “disappointed” the project was not as efficient as intended, but says she remains supportive of the project. 

Bruch said the purpose of the “designers was to let people see how wind works.” Asked if the intent of the project was to provide a cost-efficient means of electricity, she said it was not the primary reason.  

“It is a piece of art,” she added.

The city, though, challenged some details in the newspaper report.

Nathan West, director of Community and Economic Development for the city, told FoxNews.com in an email that daily savings could be as high as $5.44 “at peak windspeed” but cautioned that “determination of actual benefit in dollars at this time would be speculative because the spires are not yet operational.”

He also defended the city’s investment in the turbines, saying: “[T]he City did not purchase these spires for the purpose of energy creating infrastructure but rather as a park element. There are however many other  thoughts that went into the decision making regarding purchase of the spires.” He said they add to a “positive aesthetic” in the park and “symbolize energy creation.” 

The city council voted in October 2015 to approve $107,516 out of a total $285,952 county funding grant to purchase the turbines from Urban Green Energy.

While they were supposed to be turned on two months ago, a dispute over safety inspection of the project has resulted in delays.

The electricity that is produced would be used to power 31 lights in the newly built Waterfront Park.

The lower-than-anticipated savings could be even lower depending on the eventual cost of maintaining the turbines in the harsh and salty environment, Port Angeles Deputy Power Systems Manager Shailesh Shere told the newspaper.

Though some members of the council may not be sold on the alternative energy initiative, there were those who never bought into the promised cost savings in the first place.

“My fundamental objection to these is that they are not cost-effective and it’s a waste of money,” former deputy director of power systems Phil Lusk told the paper.