Building the Green Economy: Maintaining our 10kW Bergey Wind Turbine

repair work on Bergey ExcelWhile we selected one of the best-selling residential wind turbines in the US, a 10kW (kilowatt) rated machine built in Norman, Oklahoma by Bergey Windpower Co., there’s still wear and tear common among any machines, especially those that have to stand up to the increasingly severe storms and harsh four seasons in Wisconsin. Now the nation’s leading small wind turbine manufacturer with installations in all fifty states and 100 countries, Bergey Windpower Co. manufactured our entire 10kW Bergey GridTek system that includes our generator and inverter system components.Β  But parts still wear out; items need replacing.

We installed our grid-tied 10kW Bergey Excel in May, 2003, and — other than a blade switch-out in 2005 to boost production (which it did by more than 30 percent) — we’ve encountered no mechanical or electronic failures or issues. It’s a testament to how reliable some of the wind turbines and inverters have become. Since its installation, we’ve already generated over 48,000 kWhs (kilowatt hours) of renewable energy, presently averaging about 10,000 kWhs/year. Yep, our utility, Alliant Energy, then buys our surplus electricity back from us (it amounts to about $400 a year). According to calculations at Bergey Windpower Co., our 10 kW Bergey GridTek system will offset approximately 1.2 tons of air pollutants and 250 tons of greenhouse gases over its 30-year operating life.

This past September, we hired Kettle View Renewable Energy LLC to complete the replacement of leading-edge tape on each of the blades, tape which was pealing back or slid off altogether. The leading-edge tape helps protect the perfectly balanced fiber reinforced plastic blades — offering about twice the strength of low carbon steel. These Bergey Excel blades have a swept area diameter of 23 feet. Kettle View Renewable Energy, LLC is one of the hundreds of new companies that have started to meet the growing need of servicing renewable energy systems, completing renewable energy site assessments, grant writing and system installations.

Kettle View Renewable Energy, LLC, owned by Randy Faller, is among the enterprises prospering in the rapidly growing green ECOnomy I write about in ECOpreneuring, operating a renewable energy company specializing in servicing, maintaining, erecting and rebuilding wind turbine systems for residential or small business applications like the one at our Inn Serendipity Farm and Bed & Breakfast. Diversification is key, even for Kettle View Renewable Energy that also performs site assessments, feasibility study grants, and development grants. Our first blade switch-out was completed by Lake Michigan Wind and Sun, which has since focused their renewable energy enterprise to photovoltaic and solar thermal installations. Renewable energy installations are booming in Wisconsin thanks, in part, to statewide incentives that are administered by Wisconsin Focus on Energy.

What struck me most about Faller is both his knowledge and commitment to helping grow the renewable energy industry, one homeowner or small business at a time. He wasn’t out to just turn a buck on my need to replace leading edge tape. He actually discounted his normal travel mileage fee and was fair and reasonable on the fees his company charged even while his co-worker, Josh, had to dangle at a hundred and twenty feet in the air off the tower to calmly remove glue from each of the blades before reapplying new tape on all three blades. Faller worked the repair from the ground, sending up supplies by bucket. Before leaving about five hours later, he also gave the system, tower, and guy wires a general check.

Our final cost for the repairs, materials and travel: $578. It’s a small price to pay for producing more energy than we use each year. By hiring Kettle View Renewable Energy, we’re also helping rebuild a greener, restorative and entrepreneurship-based economy.

Photography: John Ivanko/www.innserendipity.com

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