Updated: If I Don’t Get The Answer To The “Why Aren’t The Windmills Spinning All The Time” Question I May Go Postal

Updated:

The following information is from Rick Johnson, Varian’s Facility Manager.
When winds at 7 miles per hour or less, the Varian turbine will not operate for economic reasons; when the wind speed is 56 miles an hour or greater, the turbine will shutdown for safety reasons.
“economic reasons” is incorrect. The turbine will not spin unless the wind is maintained at more than 3.0 meters/second (6.7 mph).
• The Varian turbine has also been down for the six week maintenance inspection that occurred a couple weeks back.
• We are also experiencing trouble with a couple of relays that are killing power to the turbine. We had service here last Thursday and yesterday working on the issue.
• The turbine can also be down due to icing being detected on the blades. It causes an imbalance and shuts the turbine down until ice is no longer detected.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I just assume there is a logical reason that the windmills aren’t always spinning on days when there is wind but for many folks it drives them up a wall.

What drives me up a wall is not that they aren’t all spinning all the time on windy days but what drives me up a wall is the people who constantly question why the windmills aren’t  spinning all the time on windy days.

To my thinking, the people that spent the money, time and energy to get the windmills erected obviously want to generate as much power as they can from them.  That’s a logical assumption, right?

So why would anyone complain when they are not spinning as if there is some conspiracy theory as to why they aren’t spinning?  Do you really think the people that put up the money to build them are trying to withhold the generation of power from them for some reason?

One of these people is someone I may or may not be related to through marriage who asks the question every time we pass a windmill that isn’t spinning.

Another is one of my lobstermen who looks out the office window every day and gives me the update on how many are spinning on any given day.

So please, anyone with real inside knowledge as to why they don’t spin all the time when there is wind can you please enlighten me so the next time we pass one that isn’t spinning I can give the correct response to the conspiracy theorists out there who constantly harp on about it.

I’m not looking for guesses from ordinary citizens like myself.  I’d really like someone from Varian, Gloucester Engineering or the iron workers union who actually knows the factual answer to why they aren’t spinning when there would be enough wind to turn them to enlighten us.

Please and thank you.

signed- Joey C

About Joey C

The creator of goodmorninggloucester.org Lover of all things Gloucester and Cape Ann. GMG where we bring you the very best our town has to offer because we love to share all the great news and believe that by promoting others in our community everyone wins.
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13 Responses to Updated: If I Don’t Get The Answer To The “Why Aren’t The Windmills Spinning All The Time” Question I May Go Postal

  1. From the GDT website:
    http://www.gloucestertimes.com/local/x1746078695/Blackburn-turbines-fully-up-and-running

    January 15, 2013
    Blackburn turbines fully up and running
    Blackburn giants now fully up and running

    By Richard Gaines Staff writer

    Do not be confused.

    While they are not running constantly, Gloucester’s trio of tickets to the clean energy era — the gigantic tri-blade wind turbines at Blackburn Industrial Park — are now on line.

    And as the wind spins them, they are generating electricity, while also saving money for their owners and the city of Gloucester.

    The largest of the three, its blades’ apex a full 479 feet above the ground, was put on line Dec. 6 by Varian Semiconductor/Applied Materials, while the smaller twin turbines — a mere 255 feet at the top of the blades’ arc, and owned by Equity Industrial Turbines, a subsidiary of Equity Industrial Partners, the landlord of Gloucester Engineering — went on line Dec. 31.

    Rick Johnson, director of facilities for Varian, a bureau unit of Applied Materials Silicons Systems Group, said the turbine was projected to produce 8.5 million kilowatt hours for the maker of capital equipment used in the manufacturing of chips, and translates into $1 million in annual net savings. Varian uses enormous amounts of power in its manufacturing process.

    The city’s partnership with Gloucester Engineering, meanwhile, is projected to save the city $450,000 a year and also provide “a substantial savings” in net electricity charges to Gloucester Engineering, which makes equipment that is used to extrude plastics to make bags and films. Rich Kleiman, Gloucester Engineering’s wind power consultant, said the precise information on the projected benefits to the company was private.

    While all of the turbines are up and running, they do not operate in very low or high winds.

    Johnson said when winds were at 7 miles per hour or less, the Varian turbine will not operate for economic reasons; when the wind speed is 56 miles an hour or greater, the turbine will shutdown for safety reasons.

    Kleiman said the Gloucester Engineering turbines’ cut-out speeds at the low and high ends were about the same.

    In addition, he said there is also a condition that will automatically shutdown one of the twin turbines on his company’s site.

    At times when the wind is oriented precisely along the axis of the two turbines in either direction, the rear turbine goes off line and shuts down to avoid a condition in which the wind is spun as it turns the blades — a situation that would put unequal pressures on the blades of the second turbine in what Kleiman described as an “I formation.”

    “They are programmed to protect the trailing one from turbulence,” he said.

    In the meantime, the agreement with Equity Industrial Turbines means the city’s buildings will be virtually entirely powered by clean energy, Mayor Carolyn Kirk said.

    The turbines were being built as part of a 25-year agreement with Equity Industrial Turbines, which is expected to save the city of Gloucester a minimum of $11 million over the life of the contract, Kirk has said.

    ”The electricity goes to the grid, and all the net metering credits go to the city,” said Kleiman.

    He said the turbines also provide redundancy in the event of a blackout, an interruption of the delivery system from the grid, or a brownout due to high local usage.

    The installment of the turbines last fall drew intense interest from residents, many of whom watched the blades and other parts being transported from Cruiseport Gloucester — where they arrived by boat — and then being installed at both Varian and Gloucester Engineering. Hundreds of residents and visitors alike also turned out for a ceremonial signing of a blade in November.

    That blade — and those signatures, complete with a visible heart symbol drawn on by a local resident, Kirk said — is on the Gloucester Engineering turbine that sits closest to the Route 128 Extension.

  2. Anonymous says:

    That’s funny. I have to admit, i wonder the same thing every time i see them not spinning. Maybe it’s because of all the hype, money spent and, ya have to think, is it that complicated to keep a windmill spinning. i know, i know. the technology is more complex than it seems. but jeez…a windmill…havent these things been around forever. my nephews pinwheel seems to turn more often.(*sarcasm)

  3. Fredrik Bodin says:

    I read a comment, not too long ago on GMG answering the same question, that if the wind turbines are not spinning, it’s because of not enough wind or that workers are doing maintenance, who require safety from high voltage electrocution and/or vibration from the directional shifting turbine blades. I tried to find the comment, but the WordPress search is “lamo.” Today, on Boston.com, I read about a proposed windmill in Milton restricted in hours of operation, and one in Scituate sued and pending in court, 640 feet from houses, soon to go before the judge. Some towns are talking about removal. I hope we fare better.

  4. Kim Smith says:

    Mary Page asked that question on January 7th on the blog. Commenter artarb provided a link that explains why, and the page also provides definitions for some of the terms we are becoming familiar with like Start-up Speed and Cut-in Speed.

    http://www.energybible.com/wind_energy/wind_speed.html

  5. artb says:

    The statement that Gloucester will save millions of dollars is only true if the turbines run.

    The statement that the turbines provide redundancy in case of blackouts is not true, at least to the community as a whole. Let’s say that the supply lines into the cape go down. The wind turbines can not keep the cape running as an “island” (an unusual and complex situation) because they are not large enough to support the entire load, nor do they have a “path” to provide power to individual city buildings. They might provide redundancy to some of the buildings in the immediate area, although I can’t imagine that if they were running a Gloucester Engineering building, for example, that they would be equipped to seemlessly handle the reenergization of the grid, and to successfully resync without having to shutdown and restart.

    So in summary, they aren’t running because of the reasons of low wind, high wind, maintanence, and/or wind direction.

    • “The statement that the turbines provide redundancy in case of blackouts is not true,” I Think its 1000% true its a simple process to save us all from a power outage in the case of an emergency; MEMA will cut the power to your house! one less hot air machine running only can only make the magic wind mills large enough to support the entire town! less one negative Nelly.

      So in summary, they are up there running, saving the town money and where a very smart move by even smarter people?

  6. Turbine Erector says:

    Problems, thats all i can say

  7. Bill Kesterson says:

    The following information is from Rick Johnson, Varian’s Facility Manager.
    When winds at 7 miles per hour or less, the Varian turbine will not operate for economic reasons; when the wind speed is 56 miles an hour or greater, the turbine will shutdown for safety reasons.
    “economic reasons” is incorrect. The turbine will not spin unless the wind is maintained at more than 3.0 meters/second (6.7 mph).
    • The Varian turbine has also been down for the six week maintenance inspection that occurred a couple weeks back.
    • We are also experiencing trouble with a couple of relays that are killing power to the turbine. We had service here last Thursday and yesterday working on the issue.
    • The turbine can also be down due to icing being detected on the blades. It causes an imbalance and shuts the turbine down until ice is no longer detected.

  8. Rich B says:

    lol, yes the curiosity is more interesting than the answer to me. Think about it. We’re just not used to seeing these things. “Hey man, the fans arent turning, or why are they always facing different directions?” I wonder too! even after I read the GDT article, which had a ton of info.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the info an update on the turbines. Another wonderful service of this blog.
    I think the huge and new presence the wind towers in our community have contributed to the legitimate questioning of the public. We all know a little about wind power, that units need to be spinning as much as possible in order to be close to the theoretical output of power, we also know they are not risk free and that if it were not for the subsidies they would probably never have been built.We know they may need time to get the bugs out , with all this its very good to keep the public up to date and informed.

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