Sunday, July 31, 2011

Windmill megawatt math in Buffalo, NY vs Niagara Falls Power Authority gigawatts

Six additional giant windmills will start sprouting from a brownfield along Lake Erie...
Site preparation started last week for the new windmills, which will be identical to the other turbines, each one capable of cranking out 2.5 megawatts per hour -- enough electricity to power up to 700 households.
The new turbines are estimated to cost another $25 million to $30 million.
Lamontagne [First Wind spokesman John Lamontagne] would not comment on whether the Lackawanna wind farm, called Steel Winds, has turned a profit yet, although he did say that the significant upfront costs for such projects typically take seven to eight years to recoup.
First Wind, which is based in Newton, Mass., agreed to hand over at least $100,000 per year until 2022, as payments in lieu of taxes for the eight turbines.
Four of the new turbines will bring with them another PILOT [payment in lieu of taxes] of at least $100,000 for the next 15 years to be split among the Town of Hamburg, the Frontier School District and Erie County.
The City of Lackawanna also will split an additional $50,000 PILOT with the county and the Lackawanna School District.
First Wind is receiving generous tax breaks by building on the Bethlehem Steel site, but the company entered into the PILOT deals as a way to manage future costs.
The wind farm has had some struggles.
Shortly after the turbines went online in 2007, a problem with the gearboxes forced them to be shut down for repairs.
A lightning strike earlier this year took some of the turbines offline again for a couple of months, said Lamontagne.
Technical problems are to be expected in any windmill project, he added.
By comparison, the use of fossil fuels to provide the same amount of energy would spew about 23,000 tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, First Wind officials said.
-excerpts from Buffalo News Article by Jay Tokasz

At a cost of $5,000,000 ($30,000,000 / 6) per windmill, functioning at maximum capacity, 2.5 megawatts per hour will be produced - enough electricity to power 700 households...
An average consumer's electricity bill of $60 a month ($720 a year) provides a household value $500,000 worth of electricity (700 households x $720). 
If the cost of one windmill is $5,000,000 it would take 10 years to break even... and only if functioning at maximum capacity with zero defects.
By comparison, the Niagara Falls Power Authority just 20 miles away produces 5,100 megawatts per hour of hydroelectric power.