Blowing in the wind

Air power could save city cash

Singer/songwriter Bob Dylan didn’t mean Bayonne when he penned his classic hit, “Blowing in the Wind.” But this summer, the city took a giant leap into saving money, with plans to install a windmill at the foot of the Oak Street sewerage pumping station.
Steve Gallo, executive director of the Bayonne Municipal Utilities Authority, said the project is moving on to its next phase.
“We are proceeding with the placement of a meteorological [or met] tower at the site,” he said. “This will be used to measure wind speed, frequency, and velocity to assist in the design of the actual wind turbine. It will also be a decision point as to whether or not present conditions support the deployment of the turbine. We expect positive findings.”


“Our energy costs at our main pumping station at Oak Street represent the largest portion of our utility costs.” – Steve Gallo

Last year, the BMUA hosted an open public hearing to discuss the merits and benefits of its proposed wind-powered electrical generating station. The authority has been considering the deployment of a windmill for several years now, and has only recently put together an attractive financing package for the project – which includes $2.3 million in grants from the federal government and about $900,000 in the form of a rebate from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ CORE Program.
The total project cost is expected to be in the range of $5 million, according to the authority’s project engineers, Hatch Mott MacDonald of Milburn, N.J. The balance of the cost, perhaps $1.6 million, is expected to be financed through the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust, which offers 20-year loans at highly competitive rates. The idea is to use a modern windmill to harness wind gusts off New York Bay to generate power for the Oak Street pump station.
“We are trying to use new technology to find ways of saving our energy costs,” Gallo said. “This is evident with the recent installation of solar panels in our schools that makes Bayonne the largest non-power company to supply energy on the East Coast.”

Catching the wind, saving dollars

Three years ago, the municipal authority in South Plainfield installed a wind-generated turbine to run a station. With Bayonne surrounded by open water on three sides, Gallo figures he might be able to do the same thing.
Windmills have also been successfully installed at the Atlantic County Utility Authority. Combined with solar panels, they generate enough energy to run the plant.
A windmill in Bayonne, Gallo said, could generate 1.3 million kilowatts a year, supplying the authority with 75 percent of its needs.
The BMUA could tap the same source the schools did for solar panels for part of the cost of the installation. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has a program that supports development of renewable energy technology, such as wind and solar power.
The project is expected to yield substantial benefits to the authority, including cutting annual energy costs by up to $250,000, and generating revenue through the sale of Wind Renewable Energy Credits (Wind RECs). With electricity costing more every year, the benefit to the authority increases when those expenses are avoided.
Energy from the wind turbine will be used to power the authority’s six 250 horsepower pumps – which move sanitary sewage to the Passaic Valley Sewage Commissioners system in Newark – and to pump stormwater during rain events. Because sewage flows and stormwater events can and do vary, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly how much energy will be saved at any given time. But the energy purchase avoidance benefit can be predicted to be substantial.
“Our energy costs at our main pumping station at Oak Street represent the largest portion of our utility costs,” said Gallo. “We pump sewage around the clock, so we’ve got pumps that are running continuously. Anything that can be done to reduce our electricity costs is helpful.”
The authority first began to consider a Wind Turbine Option in 2007, when they commissioned a study that demonstrated that a wind project was a possibility for Bayonne. Since that time, the wind turbine has been a recurring agenda item at the monthly MUA meetings. The public was updated monthly regarding progress.
Gallo always took the position that if the project was not self-financing – if the cost savings benefit did not outweigh the project cost – then it would not move forward. With the passage of the American Recovery and Rehabilitation Act (ARRA) in February, grant funding was made available that increased the project’s attractiveness. The next step in the process is to actually test the wind data at the specific location by deploying a meteorological tower to measure actual wind conditions.

Test data will influence design

Assuming the wind conditions are validated by the Met Tower Data, the project will move to the next step. The data from the Met Tower will be used to design the actual turbine.
The authority plans to use performance based contracting, which will specify what level of electricity the turbine must deliver before the authority accepts ownership. The turbine is to be located on land the authority already owns in an area zoned for heavy industrial use.

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