United States

United States

Exploring technology for low winds

The trend of interest in wind power in the Mid-West is inching forward. A group of Wisconsin utilities is installing two modified prototype Kenetech Windpower 33M-VS turbines. The turbines, which will probably have longer blades and taller towers for Wisconsin's lower wind speeds, will be on line by 1995, says Tari Emerson of Wisconsin Electric Power Co of Milwaukee. It has not yet been decided what type of tower, tubular or lattice, will be used, adds Emerson.

The other four utilities funding the installation are Wisconsin Public Service Corp of Green Bay, Wisconsin Power and Light Co of Madison, Madison Gas & Electric Co and Wisconsin Public Power Inc. Together, they serve most of the Mid-West state, which has a population of almost 5 million.

The utilities are contributing $1 million for the research, which is being done by Kenetech Windpower of San Francisco. The Electric Power Research Institute of Palo Alto will also contribute $1 million, says Emerson. No Department of Energy dollars are involved, although the utilities had sought them under the Wind Turbine Performance Verification Programme. "We're pretty excited about this programme," says Emerson, who also chairs the state electric utilities Wind Energy Task Force. She notes that the utilities did not find a match between existing turbines, built for higher wind speeds, and Wisconsin's wind regime. The decision to further develop the 33M-VS followed.

This latest move is step two of a five phase wind plan devised by the utilities after the state, under its advanced planning process, asked utilities to have 10 MW of wind on line by 1998 or 1999. (Windpower Monthly, July 1993). In phase one, site monitoring was begun. The installation of prototypes is expected to lead to the installation of a 10 MW demonstration wind farm. The turbines used may or may not be from Kenetech, says Emerson.

In September of 1992, the state's utilities were ordered by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to start planning for 811 MW of renewables over the next 20 years, including the 10 MW wind farm. The sites being considered for the two prototypes are on the Niagara Escarpment, which runs from Door County south through De Pere and Fond Du Lac.

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