The Story of Our Wind Turbine

This page tells the story of how the St Croix Reformed Church & Kingshill School paid for and installed its 10kw Wind Turbine, and how we are reinvesting the electricity savings to benefit the community.

For more details and answers to frequently asked questions, read our Turbine FAQs.

For more details about how energy savings will be spend, read our “Formula for Disbursal

The Story of Our Wind Turbine

Summer 2010
One blustery morning after worship, several church members and the pastor commented how wonderful it would be to have a wind turbine to take advantage of all of “God’s free wind” blowing across our church atop La Reine Hill.  A call to a member who worked for the VI Energy Department informed us that there were Federal stimulus grant monies available to VI non-profits, but “we had to move fast” because the grant window was soon closing.

The church Consistory (council) met a few days later, and formed a task force to investigate “solar vs wind” and the various costs and requirements. On the Task Force were:  Don Bailey (the Consistory’s representative), Will Borden, Stan Joines,  Neil MacQueen, and Pastor Rod Koopmans. Technical advice was provided by Don Buchanan and the VI Energy Office. Knowing that a turbine would also be a learning boon to the school located on the premises,  Janie Koopmans, the school’s director, and science teacher Michael Mongeau also joined the committee.

Members of the Consistory, Task Force, and Interested Members meet with Steffen Larsen, local wind and solar expert.

Members of the committee visited several local wind turbine installations. We met with several solar contractors. We met with experts from the VI Energy Office and attended their fall Wind Conference. After much deliberation, the Task Force voted unanimously to go wind“.  (See the reasons below)

September 2010
Following approval of the proposal by the Consistory, we filed the grant application for through the VI Energy Office.  The grant program was funded by the American Recovery and Restoration Act (ARRA), better known as “The Federal Stimulus” and administered through the US Dept of Energy and VI Energy Office.

December 2010
December 22nd the church received a wonderful early Christmas gift!  We were awarded a $50,000 grant from the VI Energy Office!  We are grant award number DE-EE0000223.

Groundbreaking November 13, 2011. The kids start digging!

During the winter we met representatives of the Redriven wind turbine company to plan the purchase and installation of a tower and turbine. As you will soon read, we switched to a different company later in the year. An engineering survey was completed and building permits were filed and approved. The Wind Task Force continued to work with the VIEO and the wind power installer throughout the winter and spring on grant requirements and the contract.

October 2011
After learning about problems with Redriven’s turbines and maintenance, we changed our installer and equipment supplier.  We ordered a Bergey Windpower 10Kw turbine. Bergey is one of the oldest and finest names in turbines, and they offered us a great warranty.  We also ordered a lowerable monopole from American Renewable Energy Windpower. A pole that can be lowered for hurricanes was deemed a “must have” for this project.

The installation will be performed by Mayan Windpower, owned by local St Croix resident, Jeff Cabrera, a turbine and tower expert. Jeff has also been attending worship and recently joined our church.

November 2011
Sunday November 13 we broke ground in a ceremony that invited the children to start digging!

 

December 2, 2011

December 2011:  Curing of the concrete pad.

January 2012:  The Turbine and Tower has arrived and construction has begun!

The screwjack installed for the first time, you can see how the pole can be lowered.

February 29, 2012:  We hosted a “Turn It On Party”.

The party was attended by dozens of church members, local community members, VI Energy Office dignitaries, and many island leaders, including Lt. Gov Greg Francis and Senator Sam Sanes, both of whom spoke at the ceremony. View photos from the Ceremony at https://stcroixreformed.org/2012/03/02/wind-turbine-ceremony-photos/

Spring 2012 Note:
Sadly, the Kingshill School at the church had to close due to the economic recession on the island and loss of the island’s major employer. The school was one of the big reasons we put up the turbine, but we trust the inspiration will continue, and will be looking at other ways now to share our energy savings and educate the community.

________________________________ 

Many people made the Wind Project a reality.

We’d like to thank the church’s Consistory for approving the project and laying out $16,000 during a recession as a witness to the future.

We’d like to thank the USVI Energy Office, for shepherding us through the grant proposal, for approving our proposal, and for making every effort to help this project become a reality. In particular, we thank Joseph Daniel of the VIEO for his diligent and good-natured help.

We’d like to thank the US Dept of Energy for underwriting the grant.

To Mayan Windpower for their expert construction.

To Wind Project committee members: Don Bailey, Michael Mongeau, Stan Joines, Will Borden, Janie Koopmans, and Neil MacQueen (coordinator). To Reverend Rod for his unwaivering belief in this project and leadership through the voluminous paperwork.

And finally, to those church members who gave money years ago in faith to the church’s Reserve Fund –trusting it would be put to good use.

God is good.

_______________________________________________

For a list of answers to frequently asked questions about the turbine,
go to https://stcroixreformed.org/our-wind-turbine/wind-turbine-faqs/
_______
_________________________________________

IN BRIEF….

Cost and Funding

The total cost of the turbine and tower installation was $66,000.  $50,000 came from the US Department of Energy’s Stimulus Fund grants administered by the VI Energy Office. $16,000 came from the church’s Reserve Fund to complete the purchase and installation. The Reserve Fund loan will be paid back over 7 years by energy savings.

For more funding and our plan for savings, read Our Plan for Disbursal of Energy Savings.

Having a tower than can lower for storms is a must in the tropics.

Reasons why we chose wind over solar:

1. Our windy location.  An average wind speed of over 10 mph is needed to make this work. St Croix is a very windy place, and our location atop La Reine Hill sure helps.

2. The church’s available roof space would not produce enough electricity to match a 10 kw turbine. The pitch of the church’s roof is not optimal for solar panels, and if panels are not flush to the roof, they can come off in a hurricane. Solar is electrically efficient for only several hours a day, –whereas, the wind on St Croix blows day and night.

3. The visibility of the turbine to the community, –an island which has a history of windmill power, and high electricity costs. We hope our wind turbine inspires the community to embrace alternative energy.

4. The cost of a 10kw solar vs 10kw wind installation were practically the same.

5.  Until recently, wind towers big enough to support a 10kw turbine were not designed to be lowered. However, the American Renewable Energy windtower has a hinge and can be lowered by use of a motorized jack for approaching tropical storms and hurricanes.  Rooftop solar panels would be exposed to high winds and are not practically removable.

How the System Works

As the wind turbine turns and generates electricity, the electricity is “net metered” back into the island power grid. No expensive batteries required!  A high tech package of power converters sends the electricity back into the island grid through a meter.  Power generated is credited against our monthly electricity use, and excess generated power is “banked” as a credit with the VI Water and Power Authority (up to a 12 month limit).

Not only does this net-metered energy save us money, but our wind turbine saves the island money.  How’s that possible?  Because the local electric company gets ‘free’ electricity from the wind, instead of having to pay for generating it with their oil generators. Based on our current electricity consumption, which includes both the church and the school (and is 100% paid for by the church as part of its support of the school), a 10kw wind turbine provides us with all the electricity we need, zeroing out our electric bill each month.

Estimated savings: $500-700 a month.

Plan for Savings Disbursement

From the beginning our goal was not to “save the church money.” Rather, we saw the turbine as an opportunity to REDIRECT money we have been spending on electricity, to doing good in the community and school.

Every month, the church will continue to “pay its electric bill”, but rather than sending it to the utility company, it will deposit the savings into its Wind Fund.  Over the course of the turbine’s lifespan (estimated at 15 years) our 10 K Wind Turbine operating at conservative to moderate efficiency will generate $126,000 to $180,000 into our Wind Fund. This is money we would have been paying to WAPA. If our consumption rises, or the cost per kilowatt rises, the turbine will produce an even greater savings into the Fund. UPDATE: Now with the closing of the Kingshill School (due to the Hovensa Refinery closing and tough times on the island) the church will redistribute savings to mission instead of the school.

Click this link below to learn more about our detailed plans to distribute the energy savings …

Wind data, power generation statistics, fund disbursements, and savings will be published at this website.

For more information, contact neilmacqueen@gmail.com or the church office.

Learn more by reading our FAQs…

 

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