Wilton Wind repowering construction complete
In an effort to improve efficiency of Wilton Wind Energy Center 1 and 2, two of the wind projects from which Basin Electric purchases power, work has been done to integrate new technology into the towers to improve their performance. Additionally, the Baldwin and Day County wind projects are expected to go through similar upgrades later this year.
Since the Wilton Wind projects were built in 2006 and 2009, there have been significant enhancements in turbine technology, so NextEra Energy Resources, the company that owns the projects, is working to integrate the new technology, including longer blades and updated gear boxes, into the existing wind turbines to improve their performance.
“Think of it like taking an older car and installing a new, fuel-efficient engine in it so you can get better gas mileage and drive it more cost-effectively,” said Conlan Kennedy, NextEra Energy communications specialist. “The capacity of the project won’t change, but the efficiency will improve – meaning the turbines will be able to generate more energy during more hours of the day, even in lower wind speeds.”
Kennedy said the renovation is being driven by extensive advancements in wind turbine technology the industry has experienced over the past decade. The upgrades make each turbine more cost-effective and efficient. With longer blades, the turbines are able to capture more wind.
“This work required that Basin Electric approve the upgrade, and sets a new, lower price for power from both projects,” said Becky Kern, Basin Electric director of long-term utility planning. “It was an opportunity to take an older project and increase its capacity factor and therefore reduce the purchase price.”
Performance upgrades on Wilton 2 were completed in late 2019 and construction on Wilton 1 was completed earlier this month.