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CALIFORNIA TURBINES ON ONTARIO, The Secondhand Business

India is not the only country buying used wind turbines from California. Canadian utility Ontario Hydro has also entered the secondhand turbine business. It recently bought six Enertech 40 kW units from San Gorgonio that were part of a project of 85 turbines installed in 1984 and owned by Venture Pacific and operated by Sea West San Gorgonio (SSG), confirms the firm's David Barnes.

Turbines are being uprooted from California and sold elsewhere following the expiry of a clause in power purchase contracts stipulating premium rates for wind power during their first ten years (Windpower Monthly, January 1996). Older and less cost effective wind turbines cannot operate commercially at the low rates now being offered, it is claimed, although Barnes says this is not true of SSG's projects. They remain profitable, he says, although several others appear to be stumbling over the notorious "year 11 price cliff." SSG's motivation for selling the turbines to Ontario Hydro Technologies (OHT), a business unit of Ontario Hydro, was to establish a commercial relationship for possible future sales, says Barnes.

Ontario Hydro's aim is to use the Enertech turbines for research evaluation and a potential commercial venture, says OHT's Chris Cragg. He admits the 13 metre diameter machines were acquired at a favourable price. They will be amortised over ten years. According to Barnes, the Enertech turbines, made by a long defunct midwestern firm, are still well regarded and form the basis of the turbine now marketed by Vermont based Atlantic Orient Corporation. AOC's Bob Sherwin was formerly with Enertech.

Since acquiring the six turbines in late 1995, OHT has been testing and refurbishing them at its Kipling research laboratory in Metropolitan Toronto. Repairs centre on oil analysis, electrical components and metallurgy. With help from AOC, OHT is also adding individual controllers to each machine which were controlled as a group at San Gorgonio by a single "mother computer." Sherwin adds that AOC is interested in supplying its own turbines to OHT after the Enertech machines are revamped.

Cragg says one or more of the turbines will probably be installed at Kipling and one at Hydro's coal fired Nanticoke Generating Station on the north shore of Lake Erie where wind speeds are about 5.2 m/s at 30 metres. After demonstrating these machines at work, OHT may offer several of the Enertechs to the private sector. In addition, the Enertech turbines may also fit into Hydro's renewable energy technologies (RETs) programme (Windpower Monthly, February 1996), designed to assess market barriers to the introduction of new renewable energy technologies in Ontario. Ontario Hydro intends to buy about 60 MW of new renewables for connection to the grid.

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