Vote at council Mon. April 30, 7pm, City Hall
The wind turbine planned for the Brant Street pier has been cancelled, after members of the city’s Community Services Committee heard the costs would be prohibitive to proceed, and the benefits negligible.
Discussions with Burlington Hydro staff in January revealed that the transformer station serving the downtown area is not adequately configured to accept feed-in (surplus power) from the pier wind turbine. Upgrading the transformer to accept surplus power is not currently planned, and is fairly expensive. The alternative is to reconfigure the wind turbine to capture excess power in battery backs. The cost for the reconfiguration and batteries is $70,000. The turbine itself is worth another $100,000. It was purchased by the original contractor and it currently in storage.
The turbine was intended to power the LED lights on the pier, for an annual power savings of about $3200. It would take about 53 years to recover the investment of the turbine, the reconfiguration and the batteries through power savings.
Burlington Hydro provided funding for the turbine. In speaking with the head of hydro, he confirmed they will not be requesting that funding back.
What do you think? Should council keep the turbine, or do you support removing it? Please comment below or email your thoughts to me firstname.lastname@example.org.
My take: I supported cancelling the turbine, given that it was primarily intended to be a demonstration project aimed at raising awareness of renewable energy. More people are aware and talking about renewable energy now than in 2006, when the pier turbine was conceived. We need to focus on projects that deliver renewable energy results, rather than simply serve as showpieces. The city already looks for renewable energy opportunities with new infrastructure projects (most recently the new fire station) and is moving ahead with a Community Energy Plan to identify additional energy saving opportunities. However, the waste of an already purchased turbine is one more casualty of the pier project, and reinforces the need to quickly solve issues as they arise.