At the AWEA Offshore Wind show earlier in October, attendees had the opportunity to tour the Jersey Atlantic Wind Farm that many had already viewed from their hotel room windows. The wind farm provides energy used to operate the Atlantic County Utilities Authority (ACUA) wastewater treatment plant, with any excess energy provided to the main power grid. It’s the first commercial wind project in New Jersey, and one of the nation’s first coastal and urban wind farms. A solar array also helps power the plant, making it one of the largest hybrid wastewater treatment facilities in the U.S.
About those turbines: The project in New Jersey has been operational since December 2005 and consists of five GE turbines. Each is 262-ft high and the tower has a diameter of 14 ft. The blades are 120-ft long, so the total height from the ground to the tip of the blade is more than 380 ft, about the height of a 32-story building. The blades turn at rates between 10 and 20 rpm. Considering the length of the blades, in average wind speeds of 13 to 15 mph the tips are traveling at 120 mph. Each is capable of producing 1.5 MW for a total of 7.5 MW.
Developing and financing: The Jersey-Atlantic Wind Farm is owned by Jersey-Atlantic Wind, LLC a partner with original developer Community Energy, Inc. To help meet the project’s cost of $12.5 million, Community Energy received a $1.7 million grant from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, and a $1.92 million customer supply grant from Atlantic City Electric. Private party equity investment or debt financing funded the remaining cost.
Savings: ACUA estimates that the energy produced by the wind farm will save the energy equivalent of 11,964 barrels of crude oil per year. The wind farm has also saved ACUA about $2 million in its first four years of operations.
The solar side: The project also includes a solar array, a 500-kW (DC) system with 2,700 electric panels completed in June 2006. The project was awarded to WorldWater & Power Corporation and Conti and constructed in two phases. The first phase included the installation of two roof-mounted arrays, a canopy array over the employee parking lot, and a small ground-mount array. The second phase began in late 2005 and included a 220-kW (DC) ground-mount array. The canopy array is located about 10 ft above the employee parking lot. The lot was both repaved and graded in a way to eliminate water ponding prior to the installation of the solar array. The roof mount arrays are on a non-roof penetrating brackets, ballasted to withstand hurricane force winds.
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