Longer blades, updated gear boxes increase efficiency with lower wind speeds
Construction activity is beginning to surge at a Jerauld County wind farm located south of Wessington Springs. “Wessington Springs Wind” a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, is a repowering project with construction slated to begin this month.
The site, which began commercial operation in February 2009, currently consists of 34 General Electric (GE) 1.5MW turbines with 77 meter blades. Each wind turbine is 262 feet tall from the ground to the center of the blade hub. The GE turbines are capable of generating enough electricity to power more than 12,700 homes, creates no air or water pollution, uses no water in power generation and allows land to remain in agricultural use.
NextEra Energy Resources will be working to upgrade the performance of the turbines by installing longer, 91-meter blades. According to the company, the longer blades can capture more wind energy to convert it to electric energy, making the turbines more efficient and improving their performance.
“This repower provides an upgrade to newer, more efficient turbine technology, extending the benefits of the project to the community and to landowners for a longer period,” said Jeffrey Bryce, NextEra Energy Resources Associate Project Manager. “The repower will allow the site to operate at peak efficiency with lower wind speeds. The increased efficiency reduces the cost of generating clean, renewable energy and extends the operations of the site for the foreseeable future.”
Through a long-term purchase power agreement with NextEra Energy Resources, Heartland Consumers Power District, the provider of wholesale electric energy to 30 municipalities including Wessington Springs, purchases the full output of the turbines at Wessington Springs Wind.
Nate Jones, Heartland’s Chief Operations Officer said that Heartland maintains a diverse power supply portfolio, including the output from the wind farm in Wessington Springs to serve their customer base.
“All the resources we have, we use for our customer base,” said Jones, when speaking about the Wessington Springs Wind output contract. “This is part of the energy mix that provides enough resources to service all our customers.”
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