Article

CT’s sole wind farm wants Eversource to cover costly outages

Wind Colebrook operators say voltage fluctuations along Eversource's nearby distribution line have been causing the turbines to turn off suddenly. In addition, they say a safety system designed by Eversource for the site has also been malfunctioning, causing similar shutoffs. In both instances, the turbines' massive rotating blades come to a hard stop, which has damaged their mechanical parts and driven up maintenance and repair costs.

The owners of Connecticut's only commercial wind farm say faulty and outdated utility equipment has caused their two Colebrook wind turbines to experience excessive downtime, costing the operation more than $1 million and counting.

Wind Colebrook South LLC principals Gregory Zupkus and Paul Corey have been asking utility giant Eversource, which owns and operates the distribution line and safety-systems equipment alleged to be causing issues, to compensate them for their losses, but the state's utilities regulator has not yet been able to resolve the years-long dispute.

The two turbines, each more than 320 feet tall, entered operation in late 2015 high atop a hill overlooking Route 44. A third turbine has been approved, but not yet built. The wind farm received $23 million in financing, including backing from Webster Bank.

Wind Colebrook operators say voltage fluctuations along Eversource's nearby distribution line have been causing the turbines to turn off suddenly. In addition, they say a safety system designed by Eversource for the site has also been malfunctioning, causing similar shutoffs.

In both instances, the turbines' massive rotating blades come to a hard stop, which has... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The owners of Connecticut's only commercial wind farm say faulty and outdated utility equipment has caused their two Colebrook wind turbines to experience excessive downtime, costing the operation more than $1 million and counting.

Wind Colebrook South LLC principals Gregory Zupkus and Paul Corey have been asking utility giant Eversource, which owns and operates the distribution line and safety-systems equipment alleged to be causing issues, to compensate them for their losses, but the state's utilities regulator has not yet been able to resolve the years-long dispute.

The two turbines, each more than 320 feet tall, entered operation in late 2015 high atop a hill overlooking Route 44. A third turbine has been approved, but not yet built. The wind farm received $23 million in financing, including backing from Webster Bank.

Wind Colebrook operators say voltage fluctuations along Eversource's nearby distribution line have been causing the turbines to turn off suddenly. In addition, they say a safety system designed by Eversource for the site has also been malfunctioning, causing similar shutoffs.

In both instances, the turbines' massive rotating blades come to a hard stop, which has damaged their mechanical parts and driven up maintenance and repair costs.

If the problems persist, Wind Colebrook said it expects to lose up to $6.3 million over the life of its 20-year power-purchase contract, through which it sells wind power to Eversource.

The bulk of the losses stem from equipment damage.

The company wants the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to direct Eversource to upgrade the distribution line, which connects the wind farm to a substation five miles away, but that could cost somewhere between $2.8 million and $6.5 million.

Eversource has argued there are cheaper fixes, but the wind farm's attorney says they haven't presented a realistic plan.

Eversource has also disputed that the distribution line is causing shutoffs.

To help cover the unexpected costs, Wind Colebrook wants to tweak the pricing schedule of its Eversource contract, and add five years to the deal. Eversource argues that wouldn't be legal and the Office of Consumer Counsel agrees.

Meantime, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), which selected the Colebrook project in a competitive-bidding process in 2011, also opposes changes to the original contract, arguing Wind Colebrook should have better priced risk, and that allowing a change now could set a negative precedent for future renewable projects.

"It would be unfortunate if the only commercial wind project in Connecticut failed," DEEP wrote to PURA in February. However, ratepayers shouldn't be forced to provide an "economic backstop" for such projects either, the agency added.

Wind Colebrook and Eversource are slated to return to PURA next month with a list of potential fixes. PURA also ordered them to work on a plan to minimize forced turbine outages due to Eversource's maintenance on area substations — another problem that Wind Colebrook has complained about, in addition to the faulty distribution equipment.

Wind Colebrook attorney Lee Hoffman, of Pullman & Comley, expressed optimism about resolving the situation.

"At the end of the day, I think we can arrive at a technical solution that satisfies all parties," Hoffman said.

Eversource spokesman Mitch Gross said the parties are trying to resolve their issues.

"We support Connecticut's renewable energy goals, and continue to work with PURA, DEEP and Wind Colebrook South to develop cost-effective solutions to the technical challenges triggered by this project that are in the best interest of our customers," Gross said.


Source: http://www.hartfordbusiness...

APR 15 2019
http://www.windaction.org/posts/49739-ct-s-sole-wind-farm-wants-eversource-to-cover-costly-outages
back to top