Tuesday, February 22, 2011

10kW Wind Turbine 0, Storm 2

Twice in one-and-a-half years.

A mammoth windstorm during Saturday night on February 12th, 2011 has once again "fried" Power One's 6kW inverters, only this time both inverters were affected.  At bedtime, I noticed windspeed was 58 kph as recorded on the residence's Bios weather station.

Last year's mid-May storm affected only one of our two parallel-wired inverters.  This time it's both.

Energy West's Paul Wende on Monday logged onto the controller software via his laptop.
He checked settings and advised that all were within safe operating ranges, but since the controller of the 10 kW wind turbine has no built-in memory, no record exists of the voltage and RPMs of the turbine.
Controller hardware appeared to be physically unaffected by the night's events.

Paul removed the two Aurora inverter covers and announced both inverters "fried".

Paul Wende investigates

A lot of "soot" inside the second inverter

More "soot" inside the first inverter

Inverters were packed into boxes for return to Power One in California, where an investigation will show inverter logs of the last voltages received.  After inverter damage in May of 2010, a new inverter took two months to arrive, its last log indicated maximum voltages had NOT been exceeded!  The two-month timeframe will likely be repeated in this case.

That wasn't the only damage that night.
The new nets and poles at the golf course's west fenceline were still standing, but a hardware bolt--holding the aircraft cable on Pole 3--broke, allowing the cable and net to droop.  Advanced Powerline of Kelowna was called and, five minutes later, their crew drove into the driveway.  A crew member chuckled at my stunned look, "we weren't far away when we got the call from the office!"

Jeff, plus two colleagues on the ground, raised the cable.

"Haven't seen one of those hardware pieces break recently, but they did get some bad ones a couple of years ago."  He added, "Maybe you got one of those."

"Have you got a couple of inverters in your office we could borrow?" suggests Kia.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Jim Bodkin Letter to the Editor re NORD

Excerpt from The Morning Star, February 2, 2011.

Excellent stuff, worth repeating everywhere!

"The Morning Star front page headline, 'Water rates could soar'  is nothing more than wishful thinking on the part of our local elected officials.  Greater Vernon has some of the highest wter rates in the Okanagan and it is inevitable that these rates will soar well beyond inflation.  Let us all hope that sufficient domestic water is available for purchase regardless of the price.

Two recent decisions by our water officials have decreased substantially the amount of water available for domestic consumption:  1)  the intake on Kale Lake closest to Coldstream Creek has been deemed most suitable for agricultural use and will no longer be used for domestic water, and 2) the 3,000 domestic customers previously supplied from wells have been switched to Duteau water and the well water set aside for agricultural use only.  The rationale given is that it has become too costly to treat water from these two sources to the standard required for domestic usage.

Some of our councillors point the finger at Interior Health but then say not to worry.  They say only 1.2 per cent of our total water comes from wells.  That is true but very misleading because the bulk of our wter is used for agriculture.  Calculating the percentage more appropriately would show that those 3,000 switched well-wtaer customers accounted for a much greater percentage of domestic water usage.

The mega dollars spent on the Duteau Creek treatment plant did not add one drop of extra water to our supply; all the money spent went to making the water coming from the Aberdeen Plateau sources more palatable and less subject to boil water advisories.  The problem is we do not have enough water to satisfy both domestic and agricultural demand except in average or better years of winter snowpack followed by average or better years of summer rainfall.

Our local councillors' growth at any cost mentality is to blame for letting our population growth outstrip our water supply.  We live in an arid climate and approving housing development after housing development has brought us to the point where water restrictions are in place year-round and additional restrictions are necessary in drier than average years.  Only by spending a lot more money to raise dams or drill more wells can we provide water to the 8,000 ready to build home lots already approved by present and past councillors.

The impacts of scarce and expensive water are with us now and the more our population grows the greater the impact will be.  Brown lawns are no big deal; grass has evolved to cope with summer drought and can survive.  The same cannot be said for our urban forest canopy.  Drought stress is becoming more noticeable in residential trees that are no longer being irrigated; it will take them a while to die from drought but disease and insect attack as they weaken will extract an earlier toll.  Some, of course, will cheer the demise of non-native trees but I will mourn their loss of beauty, shade and birdsong.

We taxpayers have and are changing our behaviour to conserve water but we need our politicians to help too by keeping some incentive in the system.  We use less water but then the water purification plant officials decide to raise rates to cover higher per-unit operating costs.  That creates a self-perpetuating no-win situation our politicians need to address.  A good starting point is to look at how officials have loaded long-term water costs onto the front end so we present-day users are being unfairly overbilled today rather than these costs being amortized over the life of the asset.  Fairness means pricing water at the cost of treatment and delivery.  Overcharging for a public good to build up reserves for future use is not how democracy is supposed to work...we all should pay as we go, not a penny more; not a penny less.  For those who have forgotten, we call it responsible government.

Another issue needing councillor action is stopping hobby farmers and country estate owners from using cheaper agricultural water.  Most people agree real farmers earning all or much of their livelihood from growing food deserve lower agricultural rates but hardly anyone agrees that such rates are deserved by fake farmers who are simply taking advantage of a cheap water loophole.

Well-paid officials and councillors collecting stipends from multiple sources need to recognize that many taxpayers are struggling to keep their head above water on fixed pensions, shortened hours and low-paying jobs.  It seems to me that for meaningful change some new "bums" are needed come November elections to replace those overly comfortable in the well-upholstered pews around our council chambers."

Jim Bodkin.

"Why can't our elected officials lower our water costs by charging newcomers with the more equitable and time-tested 'latecomer fees'?" asks Kia.  

After all, we built and paid for the system.
New users should, in effect, reimburse us.

Good question, Kia.
Good letter, Jim. 
Good luck, officials