WILLMAR – Last year wasn’t the best year for the Willmar wind turbines. Major malfunctions caused the turbines to be out of commission for long periods of time during the second half of 2017, reducing the amount of power they were able to produce.
In 2017 the turbines generated 6,526,179 kilowatt-hours of power, 100,000 fewer than the year before.
“That is lower than the previous three years. It is a bit disappointing,” said Jerron Smith, staff electrical engineer at Monday’s Willmar Municipal Utilities Commission meeting.
John Harren, general manager of Willmar Municipal Utilities, said in a later interview with the Tribune, that he also hopes the city’s wind turbines will soon be back up and running.
There have been hydraulic system breakdowns in Turbine No. 4 for the past few months, and now the hydrological computer board in the turbine needs to be replaced.
“It has all been the same issue,” Harren said.
Turbine No. 3 had issues with a control software malfunction, but it has been running at pretty much top availability since October.
“They’ve been down due to equipment malfunction,” Harren said.
Unfortunately, finding parts for the turbines can be a challenge since they were constructed outside of the United States. If a new computer board needs to be manufactured for the Turbine 4, it could be weeks before it is spinning again, Harren said.
Even with the current issues, Harren feels the turbines are still a good addition to the utilities.
“They have been meeting expectations the last three years,” Harren said.