Development has started on a new wind farm that will soon rise above the wheat fields of Teton County, Montana.
When completed, the $19 million Fairfield Wind project will include six commercial scale turbines standing 398-feet tall, with a combined total of 10 mega watts of generating capacity.
“It has broken ground, and we expect to complete commissioning by June of 2014,” said John Pimental, ofFoundation Windpower, a wind power engineering and development company out of San Francisco.
Foundation Windpower and WINData, a wind power consulting and project management firm located in Great Falls jointly own the Fairfield Wind project.
Last week representatives of a California based firm, Foundation Windpower, met with Teton County commissioners regarding a proposed wind farm north of Fairfield.
According to Martin Wilde, a former Choteau resident who operates Windata, Inc., a firm that assists with site selection, the project has been in the works for several years, in part because investors have “signed up and then disappeared, which was very disappointing.”
Matt Wilson and John Pimental, representing Foundation Windpower, said they are committed to the project which will consist of 5 turbines reaching nearly 400 feet in height. The turbines will be installed to the north and south of the Bole substation, north of Fairfield in Township 23N, Range 3 West and Sections 35 and 26. Marvin Klinker and Reece Brown were on hand as landowners.
If all goes according to plan, the turbines could be up as early as the end of the year.
Foundation was seeking a letter to provide to their bankers. The commissioners asked the developers to use a letter from the county commission issued in 2010.
According to Wilson and Pimental, a federal law known as The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) dating to 1978 would require Northwestern Energy to purchase the electricity. Even though it is a Federal law, the act’s implementation is left up to the individual states.
The commissioners have put the project on the agenda for the next scheduled meeting.
Wind farm breaks ground: Completion of $19M project near Choteau expected in June of 2014 | Great Falls Tribune | greatfallstribune.com
Groundbreaking has begun on a new wind farm that will soon rise above the wheat fields of Teton County.
When completed, the $19 million Fairfield Wind project will include six utility scale turbines standing 398-feet tall, with a combined total of 10 mega watts of generating capacity.
“It has broken ground, and we expect to complete commissioning by June of 2014,” said John Pimental, president of Foundation Windpower, a wind energy engineering and development company based in the San Francisco Bay area.
The Fairfield Wind project is jointly owned by Foundation Windpower and WINData, a wind energy consulting and project management firm located in Great Falls. The general construction contractor for the project is Dick Anderson Construction, also of Great Falls.
During construction, the project is expected to employ 50 to 60 workers. Foundation Windpower has already inked a power purchase agreement with NorthWestern Energy, which will begin accepting electricity from the turbines in 2014.
Fairfield Wind may have the distinction of being one of the last wind energy projects initiated in Montana under the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) program. Enacted in 1992, the PTC program encourages investment in renewable energy by lowering an energy development company’s overall tax liability.
As currently structured, the PTC offers 2.3 cents in tax offsets per kilowatt of electricity generated to owners of new wind energy facilities. Credits are offered for the first 10 years that a wind energy facility is in operation. Proponents of the program argue that investment in renewable energy would be negligible without these types of government incentives.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, wind energy now constitutes 3.91 percent of total energy generation in the United States, up from 0.27 percent 10 years earlier.
Critics of the PTC argue the federal government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers in the energy industry, and that wind energy is less economical than other sources of electricity.
WINData’s “WINDataNOW! Technology” was developed under research support from John Deere Renewables, NaturEner and the US Department of Energy. WINDataNOW! is a 4G high-fidelity real-time met data technology leveraging OSIsoft PI for use by wind energy integrators, forecasters, developers and plant and system operators.
WINDataNOW’s core technology takes advantage of many industry standard pieces of equipment and combines them to deliver real-time meteorological data to users. Various meteorological tower configurations and instrument combinations are possible and vary by individual site characteristic and customer specifications. WINDataNOW can even add non- standard sensors as required to further characterize the wind flows of a prospective site.
While today’s site assessment technology relies on 10 minute average wind speed readings, the WINDataNOW technology records a much higher fidelity data set (usually second-by-second data). Legacy systems paint an even more incomplete picture of a site’s potential operations once that 10 minute average data is rolled into hourly, daily or monthly averages.
WINDataNOW’s technology gives users the flexibility to use their high fidelity data in any manner necessary. They can easily assess a site’s behavior and dynamics during seasonal, diurnal, or synoptic variations over long periods of time without sacrificing their source data quality.
In order to deliver higher fidelity data to customers, WINDataNOW uses quality instrumentation that can deliver a more exact representation of the wind speed information to the WINDataNOW data acquisition system. The system is able to communicate wirelessly to a central server and deliver near-real time data to customers.
Because WINDataNOW uses OSIsoft’s industry leading PI System as its data repository, most utility and operating companies can use their live met data at its full fidelity just like any other data source that feeds their on-site PI System. This enables wind experts to interact with their data in familiar tools such as Excel, or PI ProcessBook. Met data can also feed directly into forecasting provider models and can be used to support rapid refresh.
WINData provides services to facilitate site permitting and avian and wildlife impact mitigation in compliance with United States Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS“) guidelines with regard to impact issues. Reduction of risk begins with the initial site selection screening. Existing information is used to select sites that appear, based on a variety of available information,to be environmentally benign and have lower levels of avian and wildlife use. Our specialists determine species known to occur in the area, that may be specifically listed by the USFWS as threatened or as a “species of special concern”.
Once a site is chosen, additional site-specific studies can be conducted to determine whether portions of the site have relatively higher or lower avian use levels. That information is used in the siting of individual turbine locations. The reduction of avian risk is an extremely site-specific issue that is frequently referred to during the site design process.
In addition to reducing avian risk through siting decisions, the selection of technology and careful planning to minimize avian perching opportunities on wind farm equipment are essential. The use of tubular, rather than less-expensive lattice, turbine towers; the use of perch-free smooth nacelles; the undergrounding of power collection and communication cables; the use of tall towers and slowly rotating turbine blades all contribute to reducing avian risk on the site.
Turbines are set back from rim edges approximately 50 meters to avoid a zone of raptor use as well as of the rim edge. Similarly, based on its development experience, WINData uses tubular (rather than less expensive lattice) towers and underground power collection cables, in its plant layouts, to avoid creating avian perching opportunities.
Finally, WINData plant designs use large capacity wind turbines to reduce the number of turbines and increase the spacing between turbines and rows of turbines. The slower rotational speed for blades of the large turbines and the tall towers that raised the blades high above the ground may be particularly important factors in reducing avian risk.
WINData conducts wind resource assessments to determine the meteorological and climactic characteristics of a site and from this analysis can estimate the potential power production and the impact to the project’s bottom line.
WINData provides met program design, data collection, data summaries, wind power output summaries, wind site analysis and professional meteorological certified reporting as per client requirements. Preliminarily, WINData can often determine a site’s seasonality and wind quality through a combination of a site visit, maps, and any existing site or regional data.
WINData site analysis is conducted using wind speed, wind direction, temperature, pressure and regional air density data gathered at or near the site’s location. Typically, wind flows vary over the complex terrain in a project area and it is crucial to have an experienced analyst conduct a topographically appropriate site study.
WINData wind site assessments provide project owners and designers with:
The average wind speed over all the turbine locations for the project
The maximum mean wind speed at the turbine location
Mean Wind Speed
Weibull Parameters and
Other factors examined to determine the environmental conditions at the site include:
Annual average ambient temperature
Extreme minimum ambient temperature
Extreme maximum ambient temperature
Days of temperature below –17° C
Days of temperature above 30° C
Average relative humidity
Height above sea level
The Weibull scale parameter and mean wind speed are used to determine the IEC Classification of the site and the subsequent classes of turbines that are suitable. The lower Weibull shape parameter indicates a large mean wind speed. The air density at the site is lower than at sea level, which will reduce the fatigue caused by the large mean wind speed.
If the temperatures on-site are very low, Low Temperature Option package are required from the turbine manufacturer and will be necessary for the best performance of the wind turbines at the project site. WINData uses the met data analysis to determine the size, number and manufacturer of wind turbines that will be used.
For each turbine, the following information is considered:
Tower type and proposed hub height
Level of certification achieved
IEC design wind class (I, II or III)
Summary of performance guarantees and warranty provided
WINData can lead the process for final wind turbine selection and generate turbine recommendations for the project site. As the turbine selection process proceeds, WINData can go out to the list the potential turbine vendors to determine the availability and delivery schedule and other aspect of the turbine supply process, and further, obtain firm pricing bids and negotiate TSA’s and MRO’s for equipment and for warranty, service, and maintenance agreements with the manufacturer.