SHENANDOAH – U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-17, experienced his first time inside of a windmill on a tour Friday at the Iberdrola Renewables Locust Ridge 2 Wind Farm.
“What I wanted to do was I wanted to climb to the top but evidently they’re worried about our well-being when we do that. One of these days I will do it but it’s amazing,” Cartwright said with a laugh.
A tour of the wind farm appealed to Cartwright’s interest in renewable energy.
“This is something that I’ve been very interested in – all kinds of renewable energy. I think it’s something we all talk about as American energy independence and one of the greatest ways to do it is with renewable energy,” he said.
Schuylkill County offers a plethora of renewable energy to satisfy Cartwright’s interest.
“It’s amazing because Schuylkill County turns out to be the center of renewable energy in my district,” he said. “I started with a company called Solar Innovations, which is down near Pine Grove – amazing work they’re doing. One-hundred and fifteen percent of their power is generated on site with solar panels right there in Pine Grove. Between the two locations, we have 64 two-megawatt wind turbines right here in Schuylkill County.”
Schuylkill County’s renewable energy methods sets a great example for the U.S. to follow, Cartwright said.
“It’s really a model for the rest of America. The more wind turbines we can install … the more energy-independent America gets and in a clean way where we don’t have to worry about messing up our water supply or polluting the rivers or things like that,” he said.
Many of the wind turbine parts are manufactured in the U.S., Cartwright learned.
“I’m proud to say that the steel that these towers were made out of was produced right here in Pennsylvania, just north of Philadelphia. The generators themselves are made of 70 percent American made parts. Again, making it in America is a huge priority for me and I was thrilled to hear that this Spanish company is making these turbines mostly out of American parts,” Cartwright said.
Wind power is an important resource, Paul Copleman, communications manager at Iberdrola Renewables, said.
“Wind power is a critical resource for us to develop. We are able to tap into a resource that’s free, that’s plentiful and that doesn’t create any pollution and that we grow and make right here. It blows over our farm field and our ridges right here in Pennsylvania so why not use it to turn on our lights and power our computers? It’s an amazing resource,” he said.
The tour, led by Lee Van Horn, Locust Ridge Wind Farms plant manager, included an overview of the Gamesa manufacturer software, which allows Iberdrola Renewables to track the status of each wind turbine.
The software allows the powering on or off of turbines and provides data such as produced kilowatts, wind speed, generator speed and the blade revolutions per minute.
This data feeds back to Iberdrola Renewables’ Portland home base to look after when local employees are not at work.
Iberdrola Renewables has more than 50 wind farms in about 25 states across the country and is the second largest wind power operator in the U.S.
Information on Locust Ridge 2 provided by Lee Van Horn, Iberdrola Renewables Locust Ridge Wind Farms Plant Manager:
• The wind farm stretches across 5700 acres of leased land.
• It has 51 turbines with a total of 64 combined with Locust Ridge 1, Mahanoy City.
• It became a commercial operation in 2009. It has a 102 megawatt capacity with two megawatts per turbine.
• The height of a turbine tower is 256 feet with a total height of 396 feet and weighs 203 tons.
• Turbine blades are 133 feet and create a rotation diameter of 272 feet at nine to 18 revolutions per minute.
• Turbine foundations are considered rock anchor foundations at 24 feet in diameter.
• Rock anchor foundations have 18 threaded bolts that hold the foundation down, which is a two and a half inch diameter.
• Filling the 85-cubic-yard concrete turbine pads between Locust Ridge 1 and 2 took 544 truck loads of concrete
• Turbines will turn off when there is 50 mph wind to prevent wear and tear and spin on their own.
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