Pier wind turbine cancelled

Vote at council Mon. April 30, 7pm, City Hall

Burlington pier drawing

Artist's rendering of the pier, including the wind tubine

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 .

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.

  • David Newman

    Has the question “was the cost of the turbine included
    in the price of the pier” if so and in due consideration the the debacle
    that stigmatizes this project, is its cost recoverable in full from the
    contractor, could it be returned to the manufacturer – if its owned can
    it be sold to hydro?  

  • Gary Scobie

    I agree with your take on this issue.  I would hope that the City does own the turbine and that it can be sold so 1) monies can be used to offset some of the eventual substantial costs of the pier and 2) some other community or organization can benefit from the turbine rather than it sit unused.

  • Cap10Bruce

    Give the turbine to JB Hospital. They already have a huge emergency power system which could be charged by wind power. The whole community would benefit.

  • Bevjackb

    I agree that the turbine be scapped.  The only reason for leaving one there would be the hope the wind would be strong enough to collapse this eye-sore pier into the lake.

  • Ianrobertcarter

    Dear Mariann,

    I for one, think that city hall is missing the point on the topic of the wind turbine, and would like to see it go ahead. Yes, it is a money loser, but we own a wind turbine so lets use it. If, as you say, the savings could have been $3200 a year then accept the fact that you will never recoup your money, write it off, and take the money it would save  and give it to the Burlington Teen Tour Band.THAT would be money well spent.

    Think of it, the City of Burlington would take the money it saves and helps support the city’s (what should be) pride and joy. They could go around on their tour and could say  when asked how did you guys get here they could say”wind power got us here”. How cool would that be?

    If in the end, the turbine is to be disposed of, then give it to our sister city in japan. If they are going to shut down their nuclear reactors, I’d image things are going to change. Maybe they could even use it.

    Thanks for the rant

    ian carter 

  • jgmitchell

    Just when I think the insanity of the pier concept could get no worse…..really?  Where was the logic? 

  • James Keefe

    No turbine! Wind power is more political than practical.

  • Walter Mulkewich

    The symbolic presence of the turbine would pay huge long term dividends.  Yes.

  • Dan Schiedel

    Has the fact that the batteries would have to be replaced at least 3 times (every 15-20 years) during the quoted 53 year payback been factored into the cost?

  • Jwhalen000

    Since the turbine has already been paid for, I say keep it and explore installing it where demand for additional power is required but not available. J,J,Whalen

  • Amyschnurr

    I would like to know if there is a written staff report on this issue to support a reasonable public awareness and consultation process.

  • Keithmarion1

    I say make the turbine twice as big so that we can pay for it in 106 years.  By that time we won’t be around to remember the stupidity of doing it.

  • Jason Diamond

    Absolutely the turbine should stay – since it is already purchased the payback is infinite if it isn’t even installed and the lights are staying and now need to consume power so without it, there is an avoided cost that you are not including in this simplified estimate that likely assumes no increase in power costs.  At some point is there going to be a transformer upgrade to accept feedback power?  This will also improve things.

    Also, as stated it is also a demonstration project and a huge visual reminder of renewable energy and what can be done that the fire station (or other projects) does not provide.  The single turbine on the Toronto waterfront does not have a huge impact electrically, but it is a visual reminder to every car on the Gardiner Expressway and this could be a similar value.