August 22, 2012

LES to keep two wind turbines north of I-80

By ALGIS J. LAUKAITIS / Lincoln Journal Star | 22 August 2012

The Lincoln Electric System won’t be scrapping two old wind turbines on the northeast edge of the city near Interstate 80.

Earlier this year, the utility received proposals from two companies to decommission or tear down the wind turbines, built 13 and 14 years ago, and replace them with newer, larger models than can generate more power.

But after reviewing long-term contracts and the price of energy, LES management decided to investigate the feasibility of continuing to use the wind turbines, said Jason Fortik, vice president of power supply.

“What we learned is that these two models of turbines actually have a lot of support in the wind industry,” he said, explaining that getting replacement parts and maintenance support should not be a problem.

LES compared the cost of installing two new wind turbines with keeping the existing turbines and determined the latter would be more economical, Fortik said.

The two proposals were submitted by Bluestem LLC in Omaha and Infinity Wind Power based in Santa Barbara, Calif. Fortik declined to release bid details, citing privacy concerns. The LES Administrative Board made its decision in May.

The wind turbines should last for at least six or seven more years and hopefully beyond, Fortik said.

Together, they generate 1.3 megawatts. LES’s summer peak demand is 783 megawatts.

The first wind turbine was installed in 1998 and the second in 1999. They were built by Vestas-American for about $1 million each. They are the only two commercial wind turbines in Lincoln and are considered by some to be landmarks.

LES plans to acquire 10 megawatts from the Broken Bow Wind Farm in central Nebraska and 3 megawatts from the Crofton Bluffs Wind Farm in northeast Nebraska, once they become commercially operational later this year.

With those two additions, LES will have a total of 30.3 megawatts of wind generation in its energy portfolio, Fortik said.

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