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Selections made for government clusters

Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Oklahoma and New York are the states chosen for siting five projects selected for the new Distributed Wind Turbine Verification Programme (TVP), managed by the utilities' Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE). Total DOE funding for this third phase of TVP is almost $6 million. EPRI, which has more than 700 utility members and an annual budget of some $500 million, will also provide some matching funding.

The owners and operators of the clusters of wind turbines -- to come from US firms Enron Wind Corporation, Cannon and Atlantic Orient Corp as well as from German company Tacke -- also vary widely. They include electric co-operatives, municipal utilities, independent power producers, non-utility generators and land-owners. The five clusters are all to be installed next year.

A competitive solicitation was issued just over a year ago for wind power clusters, not larger wind farms, because of changes in the business environment. With today's lower cost surplus power and uncertainty because of deregulation, small groups of turbines are a less risky and more flexible way for utilities to participate in wind projects, said EPRI's Chuck McGowin in describing the projects at the American Wind Energy Association's Windpower '97 conference in Austin, Texas, in June. Such projects, typically connected directly to a distribution line, do not need a sub-station and transmission line inter-connection.

Previously, two 6 MW projects -- both using Zond turbines -- have been installed under the TVP programme by Central and Southwest Services in Fort Davis, Texas, and Green Mountain Power in Vermont. The programme was established in 1992 to bridge the gap between utility grade wind turbine technology development programmes and the commercial purchasing of turbines.

Three prototypes

The five TVP III Distributed Wind Generation projects (see table next page) are to be owned and operated by the host utilities and designed to evaluate the prototypes. They are:

Three Zond 750 kW Z-50 turbines to be installed at Algona, Iowa, for host utility Cedar Falls Utilities and at least six municipal utilities. The $2.8 million project is in the service territory of Algona Municipal Utilities, which will also do the maintenance. It involves five other Iowa municipal utilities, Ellsworth Municipal Utility, City of Estherville, Fonda Municipal Utilities, Montezuma Light & Power, and City of Westfield. When manufactured, the turbines for the project will be the largest commercial models made in the United States.

Two 750 kW Zond Z-48 turbines to be installed a site at Springview in the territory of KBR Rural Public Power District (RPPD) for Nebraska Public Power District, which will manage the project. The co-sponsors are Lincoln Electric System, the Cities of Grand Island and Auburn, and the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska.

Six 750 kW turbines from an as-yet-unnamed supplier, to be developed, owned and operated by Texas Wind Power Company of Austin for the City of Brownfield in the Texas panhandle, which will act as host utility. The equipment supplier for the project, on city land to the south east of Brownfield, is expected to be a supplier not involved in the TVP programme so far, said McGowin. Texas Wind Power Company is a small independent firm based in Austin and led by an engineer named Walter Hornaday. It has been involved in various aspects of wind projects in the state.

Four 300 kW Cannon Wind Eagle 300s to be developed for Central and South West Services by the Texas Wind Power Company, the Texas State Technical Institute and West Texas A&M. Together they will own and operate the project. For Phase 1, the utility will evaluate candidate sites in Oklahoma and monitor a redesign of the Cannon Wind Eagle 300. After the evaluation, the participants will decide whether to proceed with installation, acceptance testing and operation of the turbines under Phase 2.

Three 300 kW Wind Eagle 300 units, supplied by Cannon for a site in Lewis County for the New York Distributed Generation Project. It will be owned and operated by utility Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation and co-sponsored by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Like the Oklahoma cluster, this project will also be conducted in two phases.

Associate participants

A further two projects are "associate members" of the TVP programme. They do not get TVP funding, but are providing data for the programme. Wisconsin Public Service Corporation is the host utility for an associate project using two TW-600e turbines to be supplied by Tacke Windpower in Canada. Turbine installation, at Glenmore, Wisconsin, near Green Bay, was to have started last month, but will not now proceed until later this year because of delays caused by the bankruptcy of Tacke Windtechnik in Germany. Tacke Windpower is independent and not seeking bankruptcy protection. The turbines are sponsored by EPRI and three other eastern Wisconsin utilities -- Madison Gas & Electric Company, Wisconsin Power & Light Company and Wisconsin Electric Power Company.

Lastly, the Kotzebue Electric Association Wind Farm Project in Alaska is already partially installed at Kotzebue, some 30 miles north of the Arctic Circle on the west coast. Kotzebue Electric Association, which will own and operate the facility, is a participant, along with Atlantic Orient Corporation, which is supplying three 66 kW AOC 15/50 wind turbines. They will be connected to the town's 12.5 kV distribution system to augment its existing diesel generation. All three turbines started operating in July. Aerpac UK supplied the blades for the turbines, which are built on one metre deep soft tundra over a layer of permafrost. This required the tower legs to be mounted on eight metre tall hollow steel piles filled with liquid refrigerant to prevent conduction of heat into the permafrost, according to Aerpac UK. Kotzebue Electric is also working with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the DOE and various Alaska development agencies to develop 1-2 MW of additional wind farm and village wind power projects.

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