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Wind turbines could resume spinning soon

A blown transformer that has idled scores of wind turbines at the Smoky Hills Wind Farm for about four months is expected to be replaced soon. "If all goes well, it should be online in the next couple weeks," said Cinthia Hertel, a spokeswoman for Sunflower Electric Power Corporation, one of the utilities with contracts to receive power from the wind farm, which is located along Interstate Highway 70 at the Ellsworth/Lincoln county line.

A blown transformer that has idled scores of wind turbines at the Smoky Hills Wind Farm for about four months is expected to be replaced soon.

"If all goes well, it should be online in the next couple weeks," said Cinthia Hertel, a spokeswoman for Sunflower Electric Power Corporation, one of the utilities with contracts to receive power from the wind farm, which is located along Interstate Highway 70 at the Ellsworth/Lincoln county line.

The wind farm is the largest in Kansas. Phase I consisted of 56 turbines with a rated capacity of 101 megawatts, and it went online in January 2008. Phase II consisted of another 99 turbines with a rated capacity of 149 megawatts. It went online in December.

However, about the same time that Phase II turbines became operational, Phase I was crippled by the failed transformer.

"That shut down the whole Phase I," said Jim Ploger, manager of climate and energy programs at the Kansas Corporation Commission. "I've had a lot of people ask why the turbines aren't turning."

Hertel said the transformer is an unusual enough piece of hardware that it's not readily available. She indicated the equipment is manufactured in Taiwan and China.

According to preliminary... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A blown transformer that has idled scores of wind turbines at the Smoky Hills Wind Farm for about four months is expected to be replaced soon.

"If all goes well, it should be online in the next couple weeks," said Cinthia Hertel, a spokeswoman for Sunflower Electric Power Corporation, one of the utilities with contracts to receive power from the wind farm, which is located along Interstate Highway 70 at the Ellsworth/Lincoln county line.

The wind farm is the largest in Kansas. Phase I consisted of 56 turbines with a rated capacity of 101 megawatts, and it went online in January 2008. Phase II consisted of another 99 turbines with a rated capacity of 149 megawatts. It went online in December.

However, about the same time that Phase II turbines became operational, Phase I was crippled by the failed transformer.

"That shut down the whole Phase I," said Jim Ploger, manager of climate and energy programs at the Kansas Corporation Commission. "I've had a lot of people ask why the turbines aren't turning."

Hertel said the transformer is an unusual enough piece of hardware that it's not readily available. She indicated the equipment is manufactured in Taiwan and China.

According to preliminary reports from the federal Energy Information Administration, the wind farm was performing quite well through November.

Just how much electricity wind farms produce is a frequent point of discussion, since wind is intermittent.

Critics suggest that wind farms cannot be relied upon, and because the wind doesn't blow nonstop they can be expected to generate only 25 to 35 percent of their rated capacity. This fraction is known as the turbines' capacity factor.

The Energy Information Administration report shows that from February through November, Phase I of the Smoky Hills Wind Farm produced 302,600 megawatts of power, slightly more than 41 percent of its rated capacity.

Other wind farms in the state performed similarly. The Gray County wind farm's capacity factor in 2008 was 40.8 percent; the Elk River wind farm's capacity factor was 44.1 percent; and the Spearville wind farm's capacity factor was 47.2 percent.

The information is available under "Downloads" on the administration's Web page, at: http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/page/eia906_920.html .

Ploger wasn't surprised by the figures.

"We have world class wind," he said. "Germany gets by with 25 to 30 percent capacity factor. Most of the developers in Kansas assume a 40 percent capacity factor. That's why we have so darn much interest in wind."

Hertel said that, so far, Sunflower Electric hasn't been too adversely affected by the loss of wind power. Typically, wind substitutes for natural gas-fired generation, and natural gas prices have been trending down since last summer. The average price paid by U.S. electric utilities was $12.60 per thousand cubic feet in June 2008 but had fallen to $6.96 by December; the spot price has fallen steadily in 2009, from $6 to less than $4.

"However, if power prices rise, it certainly will have an effect on our customers," Hertel said.


Source: http://www.saljournal.com/n...

APR 28 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/20030-wind-turbines-could-resume-spinning-soon
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