Brickyard Pond, new turbine site?

Brickyard Pond, new turbine site?

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Full release with pictures:


NEW HAMPSHIRE (October 16, 2008). Turbine #10 at the Searsburg wind energy facility in Searsburg, Vermont experienced a catastrophic failure when one of the blades came in contact with the turbine’s tower causing it to buckle during high winds. This turbine’s 28-ton nacelle and 3-blade rotor assembly crashed to the ground scattering debris several hundred feet from the structure. Approximately 20-gallons of heavy oil spilled from the unit when its fluid reservoirs were damaged. The 11-turbine Searsburg facility was brought online in 1997 and according to preconstruction documents, the Zond Z-P40-FS turbines had an expected lifespan of 30-years[1].

[To see photos, click and ]

Industrial Wind Action (IWA) Group’s executive director, Lisa Linowes, was not surprised by the failure. “The Searsburg towers are located at an elevation of nearly 3000-feet in some of the harshest weather conditions in New England. Performance issues and blade failures have plagued this project for some time, “ she said pointing to incidences in May 2006[2] and again in May 2008[3].

While the eleven-year old Searsburg turbines are failing, newer models have not improved the safety record. “Wind developers today tout life expectancies of industrial wind turbines that exceed 20 years,” Linowes said, “but the fact remains that estimates of the functional lifespan of modern utility-scale wind turbines are speculative and cannot be substantiated since so far very few have been operating for ten years.” Unfortunately, unless a person or property is damaged in a turbine failure, there is no obligation for the owner of an industrial wind turbine to report the incident. Information on the number and types of failures is sparse and poorly reported, and thus this vital data is not adequately incorporated into estimates of turbine longevity. The Searsburg failure occurred on September 15th.

“What’s more ominous," Linowes said, “is that reports of turbine failures in the United States are increasing. These failures include blade throws, oil leaks, fires, and collapse.” IWA attributes the increase in reporting to the fact that the machines are more visible, being erected close to where people live, and also due to the growing interest in wind energy development. In the last year alone, IWA has tracked catastrophic failures in Idaho, Minnesota, California, New York, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, raising concerns about public safety.

While weather conditions and climate are taking a toll on the machines, reports from the industry indicate the rush to erect industrial wind turbines is being accomplished at the expense of quality assurance and safe installation practices. Business Week published a report[4] in August 2007, which found, “The facilities may not be as reliable and durable as producers claim. Indeed, with thousands of mishaps, breakdowns and accidents having been reported in recent years, the difficulties seem to be mounting.” A report this year found that turbine owners were not conducting regularly scheduled maintenance necessary to ensure the mechanical towers remain in good operating condition. An informal survey of approximately seventy-five wind farm operators in the United States found as many as sixty-percent were behind in their maintenance procedures[5].

“Public safety should be paramount when siting industrial wind turbines,” Linowes said, adding “there’s a perception that the 400-foot structures can safely be erected merely a few hundred feet from property lines, public areas and rights-of-way.” She pointed to a private high school in Massachusetts[6] as an example where a massive turbine was installed just feet from the school’s driveway. Barrington, Rhode Island is deliberating on the location of an even larger turbine that will stand within 200-feet of the public high school building[7], although that turbine might be relocated in response to parents and residents raising concerns over noise and safety. In both cases, the turbines exceed the size of the destroyed Searsburg tower.

Manufacturers recommend a safety zone with a radius of at least 1300 feet from a wind turbine, and that children be prohibited from standing or playing near the structures[8]. “Green energy should not override common sense,” Linowes said.

About IWA: Industrial Wind Action Group seeks to promote knowledge and raise awareness of the risks and damaging environmental impacts of industrial wind energy development. Information and analysis on the subject is available through its website, To subscribe to the IWA weekly newsletter, visit .


[1] Green Mountain Power wind power project development,



[4] The dangers of wind power,

[5] Maintaining the wind turbine revolution,

[6] School’s wind turbine rises 262 feet,

[7] Barrington school committee delays vote on wind turbine,

[8] Vestas mechanical operating and maintenance manual V90-3.0MW turbine

Friday, October 17, 2008

Barrington windmill foes produce video

01:00 AM EDT on Friday, October 17, 2008

Barrington windmill foes produce video

BARRINGTON — The battle to block a wind turbine on town-owned land in hopes of saving on Barrington’s electric bill has gone multimedia.

Opponents have begun circulating a professional-quality 16-minute video blasting the $2.4-million proposal, accusing the town of rushing into the project without fully assessing the costs and benefits. It also asserts that the spinning blades, high on a peninsula at Brickyard Pond near the East Bay Bike Path, will generate too much noise for neighbors and kill birds.

The committee developing the project, which has posted its analysis in detail at, says the nearest home would be 1,000 feet from the turbine, the noise will be no louder than a bubbling brook, the blades will kill fewer than five birds per year, and the town stands to save $3.9 million in energy costs — and possibly a lot more — over the next 20 years.

Tony Caner, a member of Citizens Wind Watch of Barrington, said the group produced the anti-windmill video, called “Throwing Caution to the Wind,” because the town committee’s presentation has been slanted in favor of the turbine. The video is available on and will be aired Monday at 6:30 p.m., and at other times throughout the week, on Channel 9 of the Full Channel cable system.

The Town Council has scheduled a hearing on the proposal for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the high school auditorium.

— C. Eugene Emery

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ron Russo's comments to Town Council 10/6/08

Ronald D. Russo

October 8, 2008

Barrington Town Council

Barrington Town Hall

County Road

Barrington, RI 02806

RE: Comments Given at October 6, 2008 Town Council Meeting

(CREB recommendation meeting)

Dear Town Council Members,

Per the request of council member June Speakman, the following is a brief summary of my comments made at the October 6, 2008 Town Council meeting. Also included is supporting documentation.


Ronald D. Russo




I (Ron Russo) asked the CREB Chairman a number of questions and the CREB Chairman confirmed the following:

1. Lumus Engineering (an approved bidder) was the sole bidder to come in under the $2.4 million approved amount.

2. Lumus provided a bid for a 600kw turbine from Elecon, an off shore Indian manufacturer.

3. To date, Lumus has never supplied and has never constructed this model turbine.

4. Lumus has not conducted any engineering studies at the Legion Way site to confirm the suitability of this turbine to the needs of Barrington.

Lumus states:

“wind projects are very involved. ‘One size fits all’ units do NOT fit all. All factors must be taken into consideration. Wind studies….etc. must be carefully planned.” (see attached Exhibit 1).

I stated that hard actual wind studies are necessary to confirm:

a) a wind turbine makes economic sense at a particular location

b) savings will actually occur

c) proper type and model of turbine will fit that wind profile


While Elecon Engineering is a manufacturer of industrial gear boxes in India, press releases say:

1. “After a sabbatical of six years from the wind energy sector, Elecon is now re-entering this business (see December 2007 press release Exhibit 2).”

2. “Elecon will begin expansion of wind turbine manufacturing by April 2008.”

(see attached Exhibit 2)

3. “Up to March 31, 2008, the company has supplied four wind turbine generators.” (see attached Exhibit 3)

4. “Elecon has entered into a new business – wind turbines.” (see Aug 2008 press release attached Exhibit 4)

5. “Elecon has yet to forge a technical tie up.” (see Aug. 2008 press release attached Exhibit 4)

6. “Elecon has recently signed an agreement with the Centre for Wind Energy Technology for certification of 600kw windmills” Note, the CWET is an Indian government agency. (see attached Exhibit 5)

When testing for survivability in a cyclone/hurricane conditions, 14 out of 14 Elecon turbines were destroyed. The units failed testing. (see attached Exhibit 6)

From all of this it’s apparent Lumus does not have an extensive track record of building and testing this equipment. As such I have limited confidence in this equipment.


The TurboWinds (Elecon) power curve graph (see attached) confirms that this unit has a cut-in speed of 8 mph. Below that speed it does not generate any electricity. Likewise, according to Elecon, even if the turbine ran constantly at the 13.4 mph speed projected yet not confirmed by actual wind studies this unit would produce only 100kw per hour which is only about 17% of its efficiency. (see attached Exhibit 7)

As wind speeds progress above 13.4 mph, the turbine becomes more efficient. As such this turbine (which Barrington received a bid on) is most efficient at around 25 mph.

This appears to be a high wind speed turbine. It seems to be an “off land”, in the ocean, or oceanside piece of equipment.

If most of the wind at Legion Way proves to be at low speed year round (0 up to 13.4 mph) then another type of turbine may prove to be more efficient with a greater return to taxpayers.

My point is: we simply do not know which turbine is most appropriate for any site unless reliable year round wind studies are conducted. Only then will we have greater confidence that we have selected the right equipment prior to spending taxpayers’ money.


I’ve included a recent article on Suzlon Engineering (see attached Exhibit 8). This is the largest off-shore Indian turbine company. They have quality problems.

One must understand that these off-shore manufacturers are under license from more mature and expensive European companies, and as such they apparently have learning curve and quality problems.

Lumus is being certified and trained to install Elecon units. This does not mean the Elecon units have a long track record of quality and sustainability.


Lastly, I know Council member Schwartz has been particularly concerned with setbacks for land based turbines. Attached is a report from March 2006 from the French Academy of Medicine regarding the harmful effects of sound related to wind turbines. The French Academy recommends:

“Halting wind turbine construction closer than 1.5km (4,900 feet) from residences”. (see attached Exhibit 9)

Meanwhile, the CREB suggests 1,000 feet is an OK setback at Legion Way.

Click to enlarge objects.

Resident raises numerous questions about turbine

Resident raises numerous questions about turbine project
Council will hold public workshop on Oct. 21

Five months ago Ron Russo said he was concerned that the town was rushing through the approval process for installing a wind turbine generator.

While it now appears the council will be spending more time studying the issue, Mr. Russo has shifted his focus and is worried that officials may be making a mistake with the vendor they’ve chosen to build the turbine and the company that manufactures the unit. He also re-examined the bond resolution taxpayers voted on at the financial town meeting in May and said there’s a clear problem with the language.

“I got a hold of a copy of the resolution,” Mr. Russo said, “and it only pertains to the Barrington High School site. The money is specific to the high school.”

Initially, officials proposed the wind turbine for the high school location. They have since selected Legion Way as their optimal spot, all but eliminating the high school location because of set-back concerns. Mr. Russo pointed to a copy of the resolution from the May financial town meeting.

It reads: “Appropriating an amount not to exceed $2,400,000 to finance a wind turbine at the Barrington High School, including but not limited to, costs of acquisition, site preparation and installation and all other costs incidental or related thereto ...”

Mr. Russo said the final recommendation from the Committee for Renewable Energy for Barrington removed the high school site from consideration. In fact, the first page of the report, under “Site Selection,” states that “The High School is not an appropriate location for this project due to a lack of available setbacks and the value of the property.”

“I was just thinking about the financial town meeting and it came to me,” he said. “It was a flash of genius.”


Barrington Town Council President Jeff Brenner said it was a simple oversight — he said Mr. Russo was looking at a copy of the minutes from the May financial town meeting. He said the warrant itself lists “all town property.” Barrington Town Manager Peter DeAngelis verified that statement.


Mr. Russo attended the Oct. 6 council meeting and offered comments regarding the proposed wind turbine generator. He later compiled a packet with detailed information questioning the company recommended for the installation of the wind turbine (Lumus Construction, Inc.), and the manufacturer (Elecon).

“I think it was kind of embarrassing for the council. I was asking these questions and they (CREB) didn’t know the answers,” Mr. Russo said. “They’re supposed to have the answers.”

Mr. Russo said he had concerns about using a contractor that “never supplied and has never constructed this model turbine.” He also said Elecon has not produced wind turbine generators for the last six years, according to information he researched. Mr. Russo also produced documents that showed how Elecon wind turbines fared in cyclones — 14 out of 14 tested were destroyed, while other companies’ turbines performed better.

“Listen, in these trying economic times you don’t spend taxpayers’ money without having all the data,” Mr. Russo said. “The town hasn’t even done wind studies. There’s no hard data.”

Mr. Russo also questioned the efficiency of the turbine model being recommended by CREB. The committee’s report included a 600 kilowatt wind turbine generator that reportedly works most efficiently when winds are between 20 and 25 miles per hour. Projections from wind map data show that Legion Way — the proposed site for the turbine — will likely see winds averaging 13.4 mph. Mr. Russo said that means the Elecon turbine will be functioning at around 17 percent efficiency.

The turbine’s cut-in speed, he said, is around 8 mph. Mr. Russo added that other turbine models would be better suited for Barrington’s proposed location.

Barrington recommends Mass. company to build wind turbine

Barrington recommends Mass. company to build wind turbine

01:00 AM EDT on Tuesday, October 7, 2008
By C. Eugene Emery Jr.

Journal Staff Writer

BARRINGTON — The wind energy committee last night recommended that the town pay a Woburn, Mass., company to build and maintain an Elecon wind turbine at the end of Legion Way at a cost of about 10 percent below the $2.4-million limit set by the council.

“The proposal submitted by Lumus Construction Inc. represents the best buy for the town,” said members of the Committee for Renewable Energy for Barrington. “They meet our technical and financial requirements and have demonstrated their ability to perform the work on similar projects.”

The company is erecting a similar turbine in Newburyport, Mass.

The Town Council, at its meeting last night, voted to hold a workshop on the proposal later this month, probably at the high school. The exact date will depend on the availability of the auditorium.

“It’s going to take time, as a council, to digest all of this,” said Councilman John T. Lazzaro.

Critics of the plan continued to attack the turbine last night, even though the original proposal to put it at the high school is now off the table.

Ronald Russo, one of the most vocal opponents, charged that the Elecon turbine “is not a proven unit” and questioned Lumus’ experience for installing it. The company has yet to complete an installation in the United States.

Barrington has been moving quickly on the turbine proposal under the belief that it must issue bonds by the end of the year or risk losing a $2.1-million interest-free loan for the project from the Internal Revenue Service.

But last night, council members were told that the federal $840-billion economic bailout package passed by Congress and signed by President Bush last week appears to allow a one-year extension of that deadline, giving the town more time to consider the proposal.

David Baum, the chairman of the energy committee, said the Lumus bid is only good through the end of the year and a final price has not been negotiated.

The committee’s report is the result of months of deliberation and debate over the feasibility, safety and noise issues surrounding a turbine. The project was originally proposed for the high school, but the favored location changed to Legion Way next to Brickyard Pond when state law was revised to allow a town to generate energy at one site and realize the savings in another.

Lumus was the only company whose bid was below the $2.4-million threshold, although its offer included a below-the-limit price for a different turbine brand.

According to the committee’s report, the 292-foot-tall wind Elecon turbine generator (WTG) “has been used extensively in Europe and India for years. It has two speeds, maximizing its power generation capability in low wind conditions, while minimizing its sound profile.”

Russo challenged that statement yesterday, saying the company has produced very few units.

“Where is the track record of reliability? It’s not there,” he said.

Noise has been an issue at both proposed sites, with neighbors concerned that they will be subjected to a constant low drone, even though houses closest to the Legion Way site would be at least 1,000 feet from the structure.

One reason an Elecon unit was selected, according to the committee report, was that “it produces less noise overall than the comparable Vestas and Fuhrlander turbines. . . . One major contributor to the lower noise is the dual speed design. In low wind conditions, the Elecon WTG rotates at half the speed of the other WTGs.”

The committee predicted that “at the distances involved at Legion Way, indications are that the WTG would be virtually inaudible inside residences, even with the windows open.”

When it comes to hearing the turbine from outside, winds above 8 miles per hour will produce an increase in background noise. Waves on the surface of Brickyard Pond will scatter the noise of the turbine, the report predicted.

The blades would not spin at all when wind speeds dropped below 8 mph, which means the turbine would generate no noise about 20 percent of the time, according to the report.

Russo said the fact that the unit needs at least 8 mph to function is, itself, a problem, and asserted that the Elecon unit is not very efficient at low speeds. He suggested that it might be better to have a German unit that can generate power with winds as low as 3 miles per hour.

“If you’re going to spend $2.4 million of the taxpayer’s money, you have to make sure this is the right kind of unit” that will give a good return on the investment, Russo told the council.

Baum declined to respond to specifics of some of the objections last night, except to say, “My committee members and I don’t feel they were all perfectly correct.”

Another reason the committee said it was favoring the Legion Way site is economics.

“In the near term, the net savings at the high school site would be about 30 percent less than the numbers given for the Legion Way site, due to lower winds,” according to the report.

If built at Legion Way, the turbine should produce the equivalent energy of 1,333 barrels of oil each year, according to the report.

Even if the state Department of Education decides against financing part of the turbine, the unit should save $3.9 million over the next 20 years if energy prices increase by only 3 percent per year, say the authors of the report.

If energy prices rise 6 percent annually, the 20-year savings would be $6.3 million.

The actual increase over the last decade has been 9 percent per year.

Wind speeds have not been measured directly at either site; the estimates are based on computer projections, which critics have questioned.

That became an issue again last night, as council president Jeffrey Brenner said the group is going to need to decide soon whether to erect an instrument tower to get real-time wind measurements.

But one member of the committee cautioned that even the results from a test tower will not give conclusive findings because average wind speeds can vary from year to year. The committee used computer models based on 20 years of wind data.

The report says that operating costs for maintenance and insurance will be less than $20,000 per year.

Other conclusions from the Baum committee:

ICING: Although critics have contended that ice flying off the spinning blades would pose a serious hazard, the report says there has only been one injury from flying ice since 1975 “despite the fact that many of the world’s turbines operate in cold climates.”

The safe setback is 730 feet, so that should not be a problem for the Legion Way site, according to the report.

FLICKER: The spinning blades can produce annoying flicker on sunny days. “The Legion Way site would have only a few residences that may experience at most 12 hours per year [of flicker], and even less if vegetation blocks their view of the turbine,” the Baum team concluded.

WILDLIFE: Although there’s a potential for birds and bats being struck by the spinning blades, turbines actually kill only about 4 birds and 30 bats per year.

VISUAL POLLUTION: The turbine “will generally be visible only across relatively clear, open spaces,” said the committee, noting that the WPRO radio towers at 100 Acre Cove are 111 feet taller than the turbine.

The full report, along with supporting documents, is available at the committee’s Web site,