Turbine up and running

I’ve written before about the turbine we’re having put up at our place. There were some challenges along the way, but it’s been up and running now for nearly a month!

It took two cranes to pull up the 110-foot tower. One of our big setbacks was the cold in January since cranes and hydraulics don’t work so well in below-zero temperatures.

Almost there:


It’s an exciting thing putting up a turbine. For the first couple weeks I think we checked how many kilowatt hours were produced about every hour. Ours is a grid-tied system, so we don’t have any batteries or whatever and are still attached to the grid just like anybody’s house. If it’s windy and we’re producing power, we use the electricity from the turbine instead of the electrical system. If we’re producing more than we need, Lake Region buys back the power through “net metering” if you’ve heard of that.
A small wind system isn’t cheap and the payback takes a long time. So why did we do it? We were motivated some by being self-sufficient. But our main driver was the need to take responsibility for our own contributions to climate change and the negatives that come with energy production. Did you know that it takes a lump of coal the size of your fist to produce a kilowatt hour? Image throwing 1,000 down in your basement each month…does that give you a better sense of how your electrical needs effect the planet? A portion of North Dakota is being strip mined right now so I can flip on a light switch; in other parts of the US, a mountaintop in West Virginia is literally being blown right off. We were entrusted to steward Creation not simply consume it.

Small Wind Project Almost Done

The small wind project is almost complete. We’ve had a big tower sitting on our hill for the last month first waiting for the turbine itself to come, and now we’ve been waiting for the go ahead from our electric cooperative, Lake Region Electric. We’re still looking to finalize our interconnection agreement and also have the electrical work inspected for the final ok. The last thing after that is to get a crane here to tilt the tower up and hopefully the wind still blows.

Last month RWP put together the tower and affixed the turbine. The tower came in a bunch of pieces and needed to be assembled in the snow:A completed 110-foot tower:
A close up of the turbine hub without the blades attached yet:

Small Wind Turbine Construction In Process

Well, the small wind turbine construction project continues. Dan and Bill from Residential Wind Power are looking to complete the project before Christmas. The tower from Rohn tower is now manufactured and on its way and RWP has the turbine from Ventera Energy on hand, ready for final connection to the tower.
First Dan dug a really deep hole, about 14 feet across and 10 feet deep for the foundation. This step is obviously important, considering the foundation not only needs to hold up a 110-foot tower with a 500 lb turbine on top, but also keep that tower up nice and straight in some major winds.

After some serious digging, Dan and Bill poured the foundation. Since this is a tripod tower with three legs, three pylons were put in place with mounts on top to attach to the tower. After putting in the foundation, Dan and Bill ran the wire about 300 feet down to our woodshed where the inverter will be placed. Power will run down the line to the inverter, become transformed into usable energy and then run the short distance to our main junction box. This was done just in time before freeze up. Once the ground froze, this would have been impossible.

Small Wind Turbine Construction

After figuring that if the organic vegetable growers weren’t willing to buy into wind energy in this environment, then nobody would, we decided to take the plunge and purchase a small wind system. Our system is a 10 kW Ventera made in Duluth, MN and our installers are Residential Wind Power from New York Mills, MN. They started construction this October and I’ll be sharing some pictures from start to finish.

This is our pre-turbine picture. The tower will stand behind the barn at 110 feet, so should clear these trees pretty easily.

Right now this area is home to our sheep pasture. The orange flag marks the spot the tower will go. It probably won’t be till the first of the year that the tower and turbine are in place since it takes 12 weeks or so to construct the tower…they only start manufacturing the tower when they get the order.
The excavator is in place…Dan and Bill figure it will just take a few days to excavate for the foundation, trench the wire a few hundred yards to the electrical box, and pour the foundation.