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September 20th, 2012

Adventures at CES U: Beaver Ridge Wind & Worumbo Hydroelectric Tour

by Andrew Price, President & COO

On Tuesday of this week, the Competitive Energy Services (CES) Analytical and Account Management teams took a road trip to tour two groundbreaking renewable energy projects. The first stop was Beaver Ridge Wind (BRW) in Freedom Maine. A brisk wind was blowing out of the southwest on Tuesday and BRW was producing between 2 MW and 3 MW, giving us a nice show while we were onsite.

BRW is a three turbine project with a total nameplate capacity of 4.5 MW, with an annual production from the three GE 1.5 MW turbines of around 13,000 MWhs. A typical home uses 6 MWhs per year, so BRW provides the equivalent amount of clean renewable energy as is consumed by about 2,000 households. BRW was only the 2nd wind farm in Maine when it started operating in November of 2008. It was the very first wind farm behind Central Maine Power (CMP), the transmission and distribution utility for southern and western Maine. 

BRW is located on productive farmland owned by my uncle, Ron Price. Ron is a recently retired dairy farmer who owned and operated nearby Craneland farm for decades. It is hard for me to remember exactly when the conversations about locating a wind farm in the fields on Beaver Ridge started or how they progressed. Ron knew I worked in the energy consulting business, and he had an interest in making his farm more sustainable – both economically and environmentally. My partners at CES and eventually at Patriot Renewables invested a considerable amount of equity (a significant portion being the sweat and mental kind) to make the project happen. None of us, however, worked harder than Ron. It is really thanks to his effort - and the effort of our many supporters in the town of Freedom - who made the project successful.

The second stop on our Tuesday tour was the Worumbo Hydroelectric Station on the Androscoggin River in Lisbon Falls Maine. For many years, this 19.4 MW Run-of-River hydro plant, owned by Miller Hydro, was the only certified Low Impact Hydroelectric plant in Maine. One of the founding members of CES, Mark Isaacson, developed the modern-day Worumbo and continues as an owner and operator of the plant. Despite the fact that during our tour of the plant, one of the two 9.7 MW generators was offline for routine maintenance, the plant was still producing several MWs of clean renewable energy. We watched the fish elevator in action and learned about many aspects of the plant’s operation. Devin McNeill, a Senior Analyst at CES, lead the Worumbo tour and taught the group about wicket gates, “trash racks”, fish passage, head pond management, flow rates, inflatable flash boards and much more.

Being involved in all aspects of the development, ownership and ongoing operation of these two unique renewable energy projects provides CES with unmatched experience in the renewable energy and power generation sectors. We directly apply this knowledge to much of the consulting work we perform for clients. Making sure that everyone at CES continues to learn about diverse aspects of the energy industry is an ongoing and never ending task that is taken very seriously at CES. Luckily we are just the sort of people who find power plant tours to be fun!

 

 

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