PRIOR LAKE – The Shakopee Mdewakanton Dakota Community wind turbine will undergo major maintenance in the next few months. Until that time, it will remain offline until a warranty repair is complete to install a new generator, the Prior Lake tribe said.
The 8-metric-ton generator inside the nacelle will be replaced. At a height of 262.4 feet, repair of the nacelle will require the use of a large crane. The repair itself will require about three days to complete. One day will be required to move equipment and crews into place and remove the generator, one day will be used to install the new generator, and on a third day the wiring will be reconnected and the system tested.
The generator will have to be shipped from China and transported to Minnesota. A large crane will be used to remove the top of the nacelle and lift out the generator and place it on the ground. Then the new generator will be installed along with the top of the nacelle.
“Modern wind turbines are complex machines with thousands of moving parts,” said Stan Ellison, director of the tribal Land and Natural Resources Department. “Three computer networks containing at least 10 different computers control the operation using data from multiple sensors including wind speed, wind direction, gust speed and variation, vibration in the nacelle, blade vibration, bearing and oil temperature, nacelle interior temperature, and many others. They are not ‘start and forget’ machines but require regular maintenance and supervision. Wind turbines can be quite high maintenance. This particular issue is a not an unheard of problem.”
The SMSC wind turbine generates about 1.8 million kwh a year, enough for all residences on the reservation. Energy created by the turbine is metered as it enters the nearby Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative substation that provides electricity to the tribal community and the surrounding area. The generated energy is offset against community energy costs.
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