No News is Bad News

At least as far as blogging goes. But today, I have good news!

The first turbine at Ravenswood is fully commissioned and operating as of 4 PM yesterday! As a blogger, writing about how it seems that it is almost ready, which could have been the topic for 2 weeks, isn’t very motivating.

But now there will be revenues from Ravenswood to help fund the interest payments. And that is a huge relief.

The project experienced a number of unexpected challenges. Hydro One failed to meet their Dec 15 installation date for the transfer trip system in the Forest Jura substation. This is now scheduled for next week. Until that is complete, it is only safe to operate with one turbine. As recently as Thursday they requested another change – the fuse at the road needs to be smaller, to make it compatible with upstream protection. It is not clear to me why this couldn’t have been determined earlier. Fast action by Tiltran, the electrical contractor, to locate an install the revised fuses allowed us to get on line.

The Electrical Safety Authority was slow in granting permission to operate. Wind turbines are not built to Canadian Standards Association specifications. This is understandable, since CSA standards are over 20 years old, and not relevant to today’s European designed wind turbines. Vestas has had consultants doing tests on components in the V82 for over a year, and certification is not yet complete. So ESA has to make a decision to allow temporary operation, while it waits for final approval. The V82’s in Ferndale have been operating with temporary permits since November 2006. Final approval is expected in Q1/Q2. But this non compliant (but safe) status means that working things through the ESA system is slower.

The high winds of November delayed the erection of the turbines, and the erection crane arrived a week late. The Christmas break made it very difficult to find the right people at ESA and Hydro One to make decisions. And of course, along the way, Sky Generation was paying interest for loans to buy the turbines. Production is critical to meeting payments required. So far Ferndale has been barely supporting the payments – adding even one turbine will make a huge difference.

I expect the rest of the turbines will be on line by around Jan 20 or so. This is an important milestone, and huge relief. More renewable energy is coming to Ontario.

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