More Wind Turbines for R.I.; Others Being Repaired

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

PROVIDENCE — More wind power is coming to the state’s largest wastewater treatment plant, and to Rhode Island.

The Narragansett Bay Commission recently agreed to begin negotiations to buy three wind turbines that are under construction in Coventry. The three 1.5-megawatt Vensys turbines are expected to be completed by July and fully operational by the end of the year.

The project is part is part of a commitment by the quasi-state agency to produce 100 percent renewable energy. The NBC’s three turbines on the city's waterfront supply about 40 percent of the electricity needs for its energy-intensive sewage and stormwater treatment operations, which service 10 communities. The new turbines, combined with a project to capture and burn biogas emissions at NBC’s Bucklin Point facility in East Providence, as well as plans for solar arrays, will help the agency reach its 100 percent goal within five years. The 600-kilowatt biogas project is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Spinning class. For the past three weeks the three existing wind turbines at NBC’s Field’s Point facility have been idle while they undergo testing and upgrades suggested by the manufacturer, Goldwind.

The 360-foot-tall turbines have been running steadily since they went on-line in 2012. Goldwind, based in China, will reimburse NBC for the power they have been unable to generate while the turbines are off-line.

More wind. Goldwind owns the Germany-based turbine manufacturer Vensys, and dozens of Vensys turbines are on order for Rhode Island. The three new turbines in Coventry are using 1.5-megawatt Vensys generators. The project's developer, Wind Energy Development LLC (WED) of North Kingstown, has plans to build 30 or more of the 400-foot turbines in the state during the next three years.

The company, owned by Mark DePasquale, installed the 411-foot-tall turbine at a residential development built by his construction company in North Kingstown. WED will use an identical turbine for it next project: replacing the broken wind turbine at Portsmouth High School. The Vensys generator and tower are expected to arrive by ship at the Port of Quonset in North Kingstown on May 6. They will be trucked to the high school May 8.

WED anticipates having 10 Vensys turbines shipped and erected in Coventry by the end of the year. The company plans to build at least 10 or more in 2017 and 2018 at yet-to-be named locations across the state, according to DePasquale.

Last year, WED sold three turbines to the town of West Warwick. The three turbines are under construction on private land in Coventry. Like West Warwick, NBC will be taking advantage of a Rhode Island law that allows municipalities and quasi-state agencies to generate electricity offsite, a concept called remote or virtual net metering.