Wind turbines for a ski resort
A year after it started operation, wind turbine costing $3.9 million is now producing 1/3 power for a ski resort in Massachusetts.
On August 15, a ski resort in western Massachusetts , Jiminy Peak, celebrated the first anniversary of the Zephyr, its 1.5 megawatt GE wind turbine, and its connection to the grid. The wind turbine is now providing 1/3 of Jiminy Peak’s power requirement. But this achievement did not come easy.
Jiminy Peak is located in the Berkshires. It prides of being the first US privately owned company to have mounted a turbine of megawatt status. The Zephyr is mounted on a 253-ft tower, and every one of its three blades stretches to about 123 feet into space. This makes the Zephyr taller than the Statue of Liberty.
The wind turbine produces 4.6 million kWh of power, sufficient to run the household appliances and light of 613 households for one year. A large amount of power is produced in winter, when the winds in the mountains are at its peak, and power requirement in the resort is at its maximum because of the power needs of snow making apparatus.
Putting up the wind turbine was excessively challenging. A road needed to be built right on the ski trails to give the equipment for pouring the foundation access to the 2,000 feet site. This was in autumn of 2006.
In the spring of the following year, enormous parts and equipment were brought up to the site to
start work on the western side of the mountain. It needed four bulldozers to drag a piece of the base
weighing 64 tons up the mountain side.
Logistical problems, heavy downpour, and strong winds, hampered the construction and mounting of the Zephyr. The mere transporting of the three rotors to the site from Port Albany which are 32 miles apart took vigilant and well-choreographed coordination between Massachusetts and New York power companies, state troopers, police officers, and safety officials.
The Zephyr requires a wind speed of a minimum of 6mph to be able to generate power. It can operate in blustering winds of a maximum of 55 mph but the speed of the blades is controlled and not to go beyond 22 rpm. The amount of power generated is basically influenced by wind speed as well as by the rotors’ diameter.
The cost of installing the Zephyr is $3.9 million, but was partially offset by a $582,000 grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. When power demand on the resort is not high, it can sell the generated power from the turbines to the power company. According to the Wall Street Journal, Jiminy Peak is expected to earn $161,000 yearly from this transaction and also enjoy an annual $46,000 tax credit. Jiminy Peak is expected to recoup the construction cost of the Zephyr in 6 years time.