City of Willmar OKs wind turbine service contract
WILLMAR -- The Willmar Municipal Utilities Commission has approved an annual cleaning and maintenance contract and a month-by-month monitoring services contract for its two wind turbine generators with the original turbine supplier DeWind Company...
WILLMAR - The Willmar Municipal Utilities Commission has approved an annual cleaning and maintenance contract and a month-by-month monitoring services contract for its two wind turbine generators with the original turbine supplier DeWind Company of Irving, Texas.
The two contracts were recommended by the commission’s Planning Committee and were approved by the commission Tuesday.
Utilities General Manager Wesley Hompe said the committee went through quite a bit of discussion at the Sept. 17 meeting and identified prior issues and how those were addressed over the last four to five weeks.
Hompe said Operations Director John Harren “did some very successful negotiating’’ with DeWind.
The cost of the annual cleaning and maintenance service contract is $29,000.
The cost of the month-to-month monitoring and software service contract is $3,500 per month.
Hompe said the monitoring and software service contract is on a monthly basis because DeWind acknowledged the fact that it needs to build trust with Willmar.
During recent turbine outages, DeWind did not provide timely warranty support.
“They feel that they can do that and we have a very short leash to accomplish that,’’ said Hompe.
In an interview after the meeting, Hompe explained that DeWind stopped providing warranty support for the turbines in early 2014, which was before the extended warranty was to expire.
“No matter how many times we called and asked when they were going to come and fix it, it didn’t happen. We didn’t get the service we expected,’’ Hompe said.
The lack of performance was evident by extended outages, regardless of the extent or complexity of the problem.
Hompe said the utilities finally received payment from DeWind of approximately $230,000 for revenue lost when the turbines were out of service.
With expiration of the extended warranty looming, utilities staff solicited proposals for cleaning and required maintenance, and for monitoring software services. Proposals were received from DeWind and another vendor.
Of those two, staff recommended the commission approve the DeWind contracts for annual cleaning and maintenance, and for monthly monitoring and software service.
DeWind will also provide training to Willmar staff. Commissioner Carol Laumer said the fact that DeWind is providing training “is a very strong point of that agreement.’’
A second vendor submitted a proposal for the cleaning portion only and was not recommended.
Since Willmar took full operational and maintenance responsibility Aug. 4, “we haven’t had more than a day-and-a-half of any one of the two turbines out,’’ Hompe said.
“From now on, we’re having a much more flexible, short-term agreement with DeWind to have them provide our people and us with whatever help we need on an as-needed basis going forward,’’ he said.
“Consequently, when we now call them for any assistance or expertise, we do get a return call. We do get useful information and we do get back online. That is the most important thing,’’ he said.
Hompe told the commission the DeWind contracts were the best deal the utilities could get “because these are the people that really do know how to run these units. Our people are not fully up to speed yet. Every week they get better. But it will be a while before they get fully trained.’’
The turbines were purchased from DeWind in August 2008, delivered the following spring and installed July 7, 2009. They were commissioned Sept. 3, 2009, at the site north of Willmar Senior High School. Each unit is capable of producing up to 2 megawatts of energy.
The units originally came with a two-year warranty that included a performance warranty. In early 2011, the utilities commission extended the warranty for an additional 3 years.