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Wind Powering America Case Study: Town of Hempstead Wind Turbine

June 3, 2013

Wind Powering America interviewed Tara Schneider Moran, a conservation biologist for the Department of Conservation & Waterways in the Town of Hempstead, New York, to learn more about the wind turbine project in this community.

On December 12, 2011, the Town of Hempstead commissioned a Northern Power 100-kilowatt (kW) wind turbine to provide power to Long Island's only hydrogen-fueling station, where hydrogen fuel is generated on-site with an electrolyzer. The turbine cost $615,000, including design and installation, and was paid for as part of a $4.6 million U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (from the 2009 American Recovery & Reinvestment Act) to the Town of Hempstead. The remaining funding was used for other energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, including multiple solar projects and a geothermal project.

The turbine generated more than 128,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) in the 24 weeks after installation. One year after the commissioning date, after surviving Hurricane Sandy and approximately 1 month of down time due to grid issues (from both Sandy and other grid-related events), the turbine's total energy production was ~225,000 kWh. Its long-term projected range is between 180,000 and 240,000 kWh annually.

The annual energy cost savings for the Hempstead turbine are estimated at $40,000 for the local Long Island Power Authority (LIPA). LIPA is a local, non-profit municipal authority. Excess energy generated by the turbine will be returned to the LIPA grid, resulting in yet-to-be determined reductions in net electrical costs from the utility.

After a significant storm, it's important to inspect turbines and ensure their structural integrity. After Hurricane Sandy, the installer inspected the Hempstead turbine and found only one minor issue: the unit's compass was off and needed to be re-calibrated.

Future Project Enhancements

According to Moran, town officials are happy with the results of the curent turbine project and are now investigating the possibility of building a microgrid to make use of the turbine's energy production capabilities during future grid power interruptions.

—Julie Jones