Wind Turbine Feasibility/History

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Met Tower Specs

The logical next step is to acquire a met tower - the package of instruments mounted on a self-jacking tower that is put in place to take wind speed measurement over an extended period. Research by Chip Laffey indicates that the cost of a tower is in the $10,000 - $15,000 range.

Possible Sources

Michael Greis spoke with Larry Chretien, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Energy Consumers Alliance. Larry suggested two companies who source this equipment:

  • NRG
  • Second Wind (Somerville)

Larry also said that there is a high demand for this equipment, so that if Needham were to acquire it, we should have no difficulty renting or selling it to others once we have finished gathering data.

George/Chip - can you follow up on these tow companies?

Michael 22:51, 17 October 2007 (EDT)

Met Tower Follow Up

George Kinel spoke with representatives at NRG and Second Wind and confirmed that the cost of a met tower is in the $10,000 - $15,000 range. Towers are available in heights of 40, 50, and 60 meters. A fully-instrumented 40m tower would likely cost just under $10,000 including installation, whereas a 50m tower would cost closer to $15,000, and a 60m tower would cost a bit more than that. Tower vendors suggest that the wind measurements be captured as close to "hub height" (i.e. the height at which the hub of the turbine would be located) as possible, so a 60m met tower is generally recommended to capture the most representative wind data.

While funding sources for the met tower still need to be identified, we can use these cost estimates as we start to develop a financial model and the business case for this initiative.

--Gkinel 09:06, 21 November 2007 (EST)

Other options on Met Tower

Al Benson, who worked for the DoE's regional office on alternatives and energy efficiency until they closed it in 2006, suggested we check with the UMass Amherst organization working on wind (I know we've talked about them, but I don't know if we actually contacted them). Jim Manwell was heading that up as of last year.

Al also suggested we look into First Solar in Somerville. They are developing a radar-based product that would take wind measurements without the need for a tower.

Michael 11:53, 17 December 2007 (EST)

Cell Tower vs. Standalone Met Tower

We have further investigated the option of using the nearby American Tower cell tower to host the met equipment needed for met data collection at the RTS. We have concluded that using this cell tower is not a great option for the following reasons:

  • The location of the tower may compromise accurate met data collection – The tower is in a slight valley and surrounded by trees. As a result, it will not allow us to collect wind data that would accurately reflect conditions at the proposed RTS location (about a quarter of a mile away and on the landfill hill) and probable turbine hub height.
  • Cost – American Tower indicated that we would likely be charged a monthly lease fee for a minimum term of 5 years. We only need 1 year of data, so this incurs unnecessary expense.
  • Reuse – After we collect 1 year of data, it would be more difficult to find another use for the met equipment if we cannot also provide the tower on which to install it.

For these reasons, it appears that it would be much better to buy our own tower outright and to install it at the precise, proposed location on the RTS landfill.

--Gkinel 22:35, 20 March 2008 (EDT)

Met Tower Installation

Chip Laffey and George Kinel met with a contractor/installer at the RTS on March 18th to provide a site tour and discuss installation approach, challenges, etc. Since we cannot penetrate the landfill cap with the tower anchors, we will likely need to use concrete blocks and footings to support the tower. We will have to coordinate closely with DEP as well. We expect a formal proposal by March 26, 2008.

--Gkinel 22:39, 20 March 2008 (EDT)

Met Tower Funding

Funding for a met tower is most likely to come from a combination of sources that leverage each other. The most likely sources are:

  • Grant Support
  • Town funding
  • Matching funds from the Solar Challenge

Volunteers Needed for Dedham Savings Bank Grant Request

We are continuing our quest for funding, and looking for volunteers to re-purpose the NEF Grant Request into the Dedham Savings Bank Grant Request. Please contact George Kinel ( asap if you can help – we need you, so thanks in advance!

--Gkinel 22:48, 20 March 2008 (EDT)

Potential Funding: Needham Education Foundation (NEF) Grant Request

During the small group break out session at the March 4th GNC meeting, Darcy Ronan and Peter Kiefer (Environmental Science teachers at Needham High) mentioned that the NEF Grant Request deadline was Friday, March 7th. They also felt they could clearly articulate how the Met Station needed for our wind feasibility study could be integrated into the curriculum at Needham High. A strong case could be made for requesting an NEF grant for the purchase of the Met Station as it would provide great utility to many teachers and students while facilitating dialog about important community issues with a number of other groups (such as GNC). They also volunteered to write the Grant Request – the only real challenge was time, given that the Request was due within three days.

While Darcy and Peter were crafting the Request, we received formal vendor quotes for the met hardware and created a solid document in a very short time. The NEF Grant Request for $5000 was successfully submitted on Friday, 3/7. Awards will be announced in the April/May timeframe.

Special thanks to Darcy and Peter for identifying this opportunity and then leading the charge to pursue it!

--Gkinel 00:32, 10 March 2008 (EDT)

Funding - Dedham Savings Bank

Dedham Savings Bank Grant Request: Michael and George to discuss timeline of activities required to pursue a $5000 Grant from Dedham Savings Bank. We’ll need volunteers to develop this Request, but have a great starting point in the form of the NEF Grant request.

--Gkinel 00:26, 10 March 2008 (EDT)

Funding Plan

2/29/08 - Dedham Savings Bank's foundation provides grants to support local initiatives with broad impact within the communities the bank serves. I have the necessary forms and would like to apply for a grant in conjunction with seeking matching funds from the Town and/or the Solar Challenge fund. Grants are awarded twice a year, in June and December. Applications are due by April 30th for the June cycle.

We need help to make this happen. What's needed:

  • Description and documented estimate of the cost of a met tower
  • Plan and commitment for the location of the met tower
  • Plan for gathering and documenting the measurements
  • Completing the grant form (short) and accompanying narrative (important because we are not an existing institution with a formal structure
  • Determine the split of funds among the possible sources
  • Seek support and commitment from the Town and others for the matching funds needed if the grant is awarded. Some level of commitment would be important to the success of the grant request.

Michael 14:55, 2 March 2008 (EST)

Met Tower Measurements

Siting Options

Wind Study - Collaborating Locations

There are significant potential benefits to collaborating on the proposed wind study with other organizations who might also benefit from wind power. Olin College has been and remains interested in wind power on their site. Michael Greis had an exploratory conversation with North Hill last year.

Both Olin College and North Hill are in close proximity to the Needham RTS, which is the most likely site for conducting the wind study for the Town. The three locations form a triangle with the following approximate distances:

  • Olin to RTS - 1 mile
  • RTS to North Hill - 0.8 miles
  • North Hill to Olin - 0.5 miles

<googlemap lat="42.287755" lon="-71.260328" zoom="14" width="550"> 42.293231, -71.263912, Olin College 42.290326, -71.254814, North Hill

  1. F2DA10

42.278627, -71.260543, Needham RTS 42.290025, -71.254771 42.293152, -71.263933 42.278627, -71.260607 </googlemap>

Business Plan

A critical element in determining the viability of this initiative is the business case and projected Return on Investment (ROI). We need to begin assembling a financial model that can show the relationship of costs to benefits under a number of different scenarios. For example, the model would need to accept "input variables" such as turbine generating capacity/cost, on-going maintenance costs, consumption-related savings (e.g. providing energy to Newman School, the RTS, etc., or "selling it back" through the grid), etc.

Chip Laffey will begin gathering information in support of the business case, including energy usage at the Newman School and RTS. Chip will contact NSTAR to try to find out the rate at which Needham would be paid for any "excess" energy that we might generate and put onto the grid. Chip will also contact the town of Wellesley to investigate their interest in purchasing any excess energy that we might generate. Wellesley owns a power line that runs down Central Ave. past the RTS.

George Kinel's neighbor has experience building pricing models for her previous employer and has offered to help create the first draft of this financial model. We'll attempt to get this work started soon.

--Gkinel 11:19, 21 November 2007 (EST)

Help Needed

Olin "Big Conversations" Day

Michael and George to discuss timeline of activities required to integrate the GNC Wind project into Big Conversations and Olin student brain-power. Initial thoughts center on engaging Olin students on wind turbine research, perhaps focusing on turbines in the range of 200 to 500 kW. Perhaps their research can be presented in a working session held in conjunction with Big Conversations Day and/or the GNC meeting on that same day. More to come soon.

--Gkinel 00:26, 10 March 2008 (EDT)


We are currently assessing what it would take to install a wind turbine at the Needham RTS. One critical item is to verify that we have enough wind at the proposed site to justify this project, so we have obtained cost estimates for met towers and instruments needed to collect wind data.

We are now in the process of trying to:

  • identify sources of funding to purchase and install a met tower
  • gather data in support of the business case for this project
  • develop an initial financial model to begin assessing cost/benefit and ROI.

--Gkinel 11:50, 21 November 2007 (EST)

Project Plan

Original draft project plan.

Wind Project Plan

Draft by George Kinel, 9/16/07