Evan Osler of Renewable NRG Systems

Evan Osler is Renewable NRG Systems’ technical account manager for Lidar.

Recently, two Renewable NRG Systems employees traveled to Hempstead, N.Y., to install a Wind Iris Lidar on a Northern Power Systems wind turbine. From their post on the small nacelle platform, Evan Osler and Alban Jehu could see planes taking off from JFK Airport just a few miles in the distance.

Northern Power purchased the Wind Iris to perform power curve testing and validation of the NPS 100 turbine platform. With data compiled by the Lidar system, Northern Power will be able to determine the impact of different upgrades on wind turbine power performance, as well as accurately characterize how the turbine anemometer and vane measurements are influenced by the rotation of the blades and the structure—known as the nacelle transfer function (NTF).

Evan Osler and Alban Jehu work to configure the Wind Iris Lidar on the turbine’s nacelle.

Evan Osler and Alban Jehu work to configure the Wind Iris Lidar on the turbine’s nacelle.

“We chose the Wind Iris because it is a flexible tool for measuring upstream wind speed,” explained Chris McKay, director of product management at Northern Power. “We can accurately verify the power curve of wind turbines without the additional cost and permitting challenges of installing a separate meteorological tower.”

After Evan and Alban helped deploy the Wind Iris at the Point Lookout project in Hempstead, it began collecting measurements. When testing is complete, Northern Power plans to redeploy the Wind Iris at additional sites, including Burke Mountain in East Burke, Vt., and Rock of Ages in Graniteville, Vt.

Newly installed, the Wind Iris is ready to begin measuring the free stream wind speed ahead of the turbine.

“With the Wind Iris, we’ll be able to quickly determine how the upgrade packages we are designing will affect performance,” added McKay. “The hard data will show customers how they can benefit from those upgrades.”

Wind Iris is manufactured by Avent Lidar Technology, a joint venture between U.S.-based Renewable NRG Systems and France-based Leosphere. The first Lidar dedicated to turbine performance evaluation, it uses pulsed Lidar technology to measure horizontal wind speed and direction at distances of 40 to 400 meters upwind of the turbine. It has been specifically designed for repeat installations.

Learn more about the Wind Iris at www.renewablenrgsystems.com/products/5977/wind-iris-lidar.aspx.


RNRG employees at the 2014 Corporate Cup

RNRG employees at the 2014 Corporate Cup

Despite the ups and downs that the wind industry has experienced in recent years, Renewable NRG Systems has worked hard to maintain a focus on employee wellness—something that we believe is core to our success as a company. We have received accolades both locally and nationally for our efforts, including a 2014 Worksite Wellness Silver Level Award from the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness & Sports and the Vermont Department of Health.

In light of this recent award, I spoke with CEO Jan Blomstrann about RNRG’s wellness initiatives—past and present—and what advice she can offer for businesses that are hoping to improve their own programs.

What is employee wellness? What does it encompass?

Jan: Employee wellness begins with the health of the individual. When an employee comes into work bringing his/her best self, it contributes to a vibrant and productive workplace. The effects cascade up and down the organizational structure, but it all starts at the individual level.

What has RNRG historically done to promote employee wellness?

Jan: We have always focused on the benefits package. Since organizational wellness is rooted in the health of employees, offering dental, health, and retirement benefits is essential.

I believe wellness also starts with hiring. Hiring should be a two-way process of making sure the candidate wants the job and that we want the candidate to work here. The result is a respectful environment where people enjoy each other, treat each other well, and promote a good atmosphere.

Finally, team building is important too. All along, we’ve encouraged staff to get to know each other—hosting parties, ski days, and so on. We’ve participated in community events as well, like the Penguin Plunge and Corporate Cup. More recently, the formation of NRGize, our volunteer wellness committee, points to the fact that we care about wellness enough to devote time to making it happen.

How have the programs evolved over time?

Jan: Going all the way back, our benefits package was built slowly and deliberately to ensure it was both financially possible and could be expanded. There are certain elements of the package that are unique and core to our mission—for example, providing reimbursement for home energy efficiency improvements. Over time, we’ve found ways to retain the benefits that are meaningful to the core of who we are and what we do.

We offer an onsite gym, a pool, and walking paths around the property. This has created opportunities for exercise right on site. We also aim to nurture a supportive and creative atmosphere, and one of our ongoing traditions is that employees play spontaneous music at lunchtime on Fridays.

Understanding that life events happen, we maintain an emergency fund for employees in crisis so we can support them as they return to a state of health.

In addition, one of our newest programs is called “Voice of the Employee.” Through this initiative, staff members can submit suggestions for every area of our business, from facility improvements to company processes. Since the program’s implementation, over one third of suggestions have been implemented, and more are currently under consideration.

What have been the biggest challenges for implementing wellness initiatives?

Jan: Frankly, it can be a challenge to sustain wellness practices during lean times. You have to be able to afford them. With changes in the industry, we had to focus on the benefits and programs that really matter.

Second, there’s the distraction factor – businesses must always navigate the tension between productivity and devoting time to the care and feeding of wellness programs. For example, staff members serving on our NRGize committee have to take time out of their busy days to meet. But we absolutely feel that it is worthwhile.

What do you envision for the future of RNRG’s wellness programs?

Jan: Our values are still the same. We will continue to do everything we can to encourage people to get to know each other, respect each other, and come to work healthy.

How does employee wellness fit with the overall vision and mission of the company?

Jan: Sustainability is the heart of our mission—from the industries we serve, to our LEED Gold facility. We take pride in manufacturing U.S.-made products that support the world’s efforts to develop a renewable energy future.

What would you recommend for other leaders who are considering starting wellness programs?

Jan: Customize it for your own business; figure out what that means. Do it from the spirit of creating better conditions—a better workplace—that will then translate to a better bottom line.


Are your tilt-up towers in tip-top shape?

May 27, 2014

Renewable NRG Systems tilt-up towers are built to withstand extreme weather conditions, from ice storms, to marine climates, to extreme heat. With proper maintenance, they will stand for many years. Still, they need occasional TLC to sustain top performance. Since spring is an ideal time to inspect your tower, I spoke with Drew Lepple to [...]

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How to detect yaw misalignment with nacelle-mounted Lidar

May 19, 2014

Do you suspect that you have underperforming wind turbines? Are you familiar with the causes and consequences of yaw misalignment? In a recent webinar, we discussed one of wind farm owners’ biggest problems, turbine underperformance, and one of the industry’s most promising tools, nacelle-mounted Lidar. Using the results of a Lidar installation on a First [...]

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Fog to Frost: Installing met masts on Alaska’s harsh terrain

May 2, 2014

This is a guest post written by Keith Broyles, president of KB Energy. KB Energy, owned by Keith and Lois Broyles, is a North American-based company specializing in tilt-up meteorological tower services, including installations, decommissions, refits, and repairs. In total, we have installed over 1,700 towers, including a recently completed installation in Alaska. It was [...]

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Case Study: Early detection of high speed shaft bearing failures with TurbinePhD

February 12, 2014

Wind turbine condition monitoring systems (CMS) are designed to identify faulted bearings, gears, and shafts early, before they cause secondary damage to other components in the drive train. When the CMS is designed with an effective fault detection architecture that avoids false alarms, maintenance can be planned and performed proactively—cutting crane and repair costs and [...]

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New classification for WindSensor P2546-OPR class 1 anemometer

January 24, 2014

We’re excited to announce that WindSensor has released an updated classification report for the WindSensor P2546-OPR class 1 anemometer. Classification is used broadly in the wind industry to formally characterize an anemometer’s operational uncertainty. In other words, it indicates how effectively a sensor measures wind speed. This report—which applies to both the P2546A-OPR and the [...]

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Case Study: First Wind uses Wind Iris Lidar to correct yaw error and improve energy production

January 2, 2014

First Wind recently purchased a Wind Iris Lidar to optimize the performance of its wind turbines. This decision was the result of a successful field trial that used data from the nacelle-mounted Lidar to increase the total energy production of a turbine. “We used the Wind Iris to determine whether there was yaw misalignment of [...]

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Hybrid XT measurements help maximize the performance of 300+ Northern Power Systems wind turbines

November 1, 2013

I drive by a single white wind turbine nearly every day. Backdropped by rolling farm fields and the jagged summit of Mount Mansfield to the east, it is a dramatic sight—especially when a storm is approaching and the turbine is bright against heavy, hard metal clouds. I like to gauge the weather by watching its [...]

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Wind in Her Blood: Honoring Jan Blomstrann’s commitment to social responsibility in business and life

October 15, 2013

It was a breezy evening on Lake Champlain, and the sun was sinking behind the blue and gunmetal gray Adirondack Mountains. Inside the ECHO Science Center, we gathered at round tables to celebrate the 2013 Terry Ehrich Award for Excellence in Socially Responsible Business. Jan Blomstrann, Renewable NRG Systems’ president and CEO, was the honoree. [...]

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