Posted on April 12, 2012 by Richard Sherman
Many environmental lawyers get involved in alternative energy development projects. But some may not have the engineering or technical background to understand some of the nuances of such projects.
Recently, a local municipal corporation installed three 1.5 MW wind turbines at its wastewater treatment facility, with the attendant publicity regarding reducing its electric energy consumption from the local distribution utility. The turbines have been up for some time but are not operating. Why not? Because, prior to erecting the turbines, the corporation did not negotiate, execute and implement an interconnection agreement with the local distribution company. And it may be some time before such agreement is executed and the interconnection is made.
Meanwhile, the turbines stand erect and motionless. While some may find this visually pleasing, what most do not realize is that wind effects on a motionless turbine – even when the turbine blades are feathered – produce considerable strain on the turbine components and may result in metal fatigue or breakage sooner than anticipated, with the consequent increase in unbudgeted maintenance and replacement costs. Such costs could have a material effect on the economic viability of the project.
Sign and implement the interconnection agreement first. You have been warned.