FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- Consistency, not high wind speed, counts when generating energy with wind turbines. Due to those consistent winds, Platte River Power Authority's Medicine Bow Wind site has set another performance record. In January 2006, 2,975,922 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy were generated at the site -- the highest amount since the site began operating eight years ago. This represents energy used by approximately 4,250 homes, based on 700 kWh per month average residential usage.
The previous record was set in January 2003 when 2,691,335 kWh of energy was generated. The new record surpassed the previous one by 10.5 percent.
"This consistent output helps us meet our owner communities' growing demand for wind energy," said John Bleem, customer services and environmental programs division manager at Platte River.
"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.
"Consistent performance from our wind turbines is critical to meeting the needs of customers who have requested renewable energy," said Bleem. "Abundant winds, combined with improved operating reliability, better maintenance procedures and the addition of the Liberty turbine last year have enhanced our overall production levels."
Clipper Windpower, Inc. installed the commercial prototype Liberty turbine at Platte River's site in 2005. Platte River purchases the energy generated by the turbine for the Fort Collins Wind Program and the Town of Estes Park.
More information can be found on Platte River's Web site -- www.prpa.org.