FORT COLLINS, Colo. - When the wind blows in southern Wyoming, it really blows. Due to those winds, Platte River Power Authority's Medicine Bow Wind Project has set another performance record. Last month 2,691,335 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy were generated at the site-the highest amount since the site began operating five years ago. This represents energy used by 3,900 homes (based on 690 kWh per month average residential usage).
The previous record was set in January 2002 when 2,300,305 kWh of energy was generated. The new record surpassed the previous one by 14.5 percent.
"This high output helps us meet our customers growing demand for wind energy," said John Bleem, customer services division manager at Platte River.
According to the turbine manufacturer of nine of the 10 turbines at Platte River's site, Vestas-American Wind Technology, Inc., the monthly generation level from Platte River's top producing turbine is "among the top ten turbines in all of North America."
"One challenge of wind energy is the intermittent nature of the wind," said Bleem. Though the turbines produce some energy about two-thirds of the time, the turbines produce only one-third of their maximum power rating on average, throughout the year. Since the wind speed is related to weather patterns it's difficult to predict when the turbines will run.
Mechanical reliability of the turbines is also very important. Platte River's turbines at the Medicine Bow site have an average annual availability of over 98 percent.
"High performance from our wind turbines is critical to meeting the needs of customers who have requested renewable energy," said John Bleem, division manager of customer services for Platte River. "Abundant winds, combined with improved reliability and better maintenance procedures, have enhanced our overall production levels."
Platte River purchased the assets of the Medicine Bow Project in 1997, adding turbines in 1998, 1999 and 2000 so that, currently, there are a total of 10 turbines at the site. More information can be found on Platte River's Web site - www.prpa.org/energysources.