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County's wind turbine awaits PNM inspection

Santa Fe County installed a 12-kilowatt wind turbine at its newly constructed Public Works facility last October. But the machine is not up and running yet. Community Project Division Director Paul Olafson said the 100-foot-tall windmill is ready to start providing power to the new Public Works building and back into the power grid "pending a windy day." Public Service Company of New Mexico inspectors need to see the turbine in action before they can certify that it's safe to connect it to the power grid.

Santa Fe County installed a 12-kilowatt wind turbine at its newly constructed Public Works facility last October. But the machine is not up and running yet.

Community Project Division Director Paul Olafson said the 100-foot-tall windmill is ready to start providing power to the new Public Works building and back into the power grid "pending a windy day." Public Service Company of New Mexico inspectors need to see the turbine in action before they can certify that it's safe to connect it to the power grid. But it's not only lack of wind that has kept the turbine from being hooked up.

Olafson said getting the $75,000 machine permitted has been a lengthy process that took the better part of last year.

Anthony Bueno, one of two program managers at PNM's Renewable Energy Department, said it's not typical for the process to take that long.

Bueno said Santa Fe County's process was a bit irregular from the start because the county didn't apply to have the turbine connected to the grid until after it had been installed. It's customary to complete the application process before construction begins, he said. Bueno said Santa Fe County's application process also had to be... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Santa Fe County installed a 12-kilowatt wind turbine at its newly constructed Public Works facility last October. But the machine is not up and running yet.

Community Project Division Director Paul Olafson said the 100-foot-tall windmill is ready to start providing power to the new Public Works building and back into the power grid "pending a windy day." Public Service Company of New Mexico inspectors need to see the turbine in action before they can certify that it's safe to connect it to the power grid. But it's not only lack of wind that has kept the turbine from being hooked up.

Olafson said getting the $75,000 machine permitted has been a lengthy process that took the better part of last year.

Anthony Bueno, one of two program managers at PNM's Renewable Energy Department, said it's not typical for the process to take that long.

Bueno said Santa Fe County's process was a bit irregular from the start because the county didn't apply to have the turbine connected to the grid until after it had been installed. It's customary to complete the application process before construction begins, he said. Bueno said Santa Fe County's application process also had to be restarted at one point because the county had applied for a permit for the wrong size inverter, and getting certification information on some of the parts of the turbine took a long time.

Olafson attributed the delay in part to staff turnover at PNM during the permitting process.

Barbara Felix, an independent contractor working for the project management company in charge of the Public Works facility, said almost everyone involved in setting up the turbine was doing it for the first time.

"It's a new process, and there was a learning curve on the county's side, on the Construction Industries (Division) side and, frankly, on the contractor's side," Felix said. "It's great technology. It's worth doing. It was a great test case about how things can possibly be a little smoother in the future."

Once it's up and running, the turbine will be capable of providing somewhere between 3 percent and 6.8 percent of the electricity needed for the Public Works facility, according to Olafson.

But the PNM inspectors are still waiting for a windy day so they can perform the final inspection and OK the turbine for connection to the grid.

Bueno said he doesn't know exactly how much wind will be needed in order for that to happen. His method for deciding what is windy enough isn't exactly scientific.

"We look at the trees," he said. "If it's semi-windy here (in Albuquerque), it will probably be more windy up there," Bueno said. "So on a moment's notice, if it's windy, we are going to go and get it inspected."


Source: http://www.santafenewmexica...

JUL 19 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/21285-county-s-wind-turbine-awaits-pnm-inspection
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