Larry Miles, Wind Turbine Company (WTC) president, says the NREL tests of the 250 kW turbine are going well and he is confident a much larger version of the machine will be ready to fill Seattle's order. That turbine could be as large as 750 kW and eventually produce energy in the $0.03 cent range.
Miles says WTC bid for 330 average MW of wind to achieve the 100 MW of wind capacity required by Seattle over a ten year period. The closing date for bids was August 25 and Seattle expects to award the contract in December. The utility has not announced who submitted bids.
WTC has already talked to three property owners in the state where the turbines could be installed. While two sites are in eastern Washington where the wind blows the steadiest, one is in western Washington. Miles declines to give more details, other than that Columbia Hills is not included in his list of three sites due to potential conflicts with the Columbia Gorge Audubon Society. WTC's downwind turbine is lighter and more flexible than more conventional turbines and has two blades instead of the customary three (Windpower Monthly July 2000).
Miles says WTC's bid is flexible and could provide all the capacity next year, but it specifically proposes to begin next year with 20 to 40 turbines and then filling a sixth of the order each year through 2007. He hopes a project like Seattle's would give WTC the boost it needs to move beyond testing and into production.
"An initial 20 to 40 turbines is a reasonable bite to take," Miles says. "By 2005, we can be doing a couple hundred machines a year and at that level the turbine could produce electricity close to three cents a kilowatt hour."