Meg Cichon and Jennifer Runyon, RenewableEnergyWorld.com
December 11, 2012 | 2 Comments
Best Wind Project Winner: Spring Valley Wind Project, owned by Pattern Energy in Ely, Nev.
The 151.8 MW Spring Valley Wind Project in Ely, Nev. Was the first wind farm to be built on federal land under a program through the U.S. Department of the Interior, which aimed to authorize 10,000 MW of renewable energy on public lands.
The planning process for Spring Valley began in 2006, and the Bureau of Land Management issued Pattern Energy its right of way in 2007. The project broke ground in August 2011, and was commissioned in June 2012. The 66-turbine project is not only the first wind project on public land, it marks the first wind project in the state of Nevada.
Pattern Energy developed the project with 66 Siemens 2.3 MW wind turbines, and worked with several federal agencies and environmental groups during the environmental review and permit process, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nevada Department of Wildlife, NV Energy, local tribes and the Sierra Club.
Developers implemented innovative initiatives to address environmental concerns. These initiatives include funding for sage grouse, curtailment standards, modified electrical lines to reduce risks to birds, and an advanced radar system designed to protect birds and bats.
Spring Valley gave a boost to the local community. The project created approximately 240 jobs during construction and allows for 13 permanent operations and maintenance (O&M) positions. More than 40 businesses throughout Nevada were involved during construction and nearly $10 million has been spent with those businesses on construction goods and services. The wind energy project is expected to generate more than $20 million in tax revenue for White Pine County and the state of Nevada's Renewable Energy Fund over the next 20 years.
Best Wind Project Runner-Up: Settler’s Trail Wind Farm, owned by E-ON Climate and Renewables in Iroquois County, Ill.
The Settler's Trail Wind Farm, located in Iroquois County, Ill., was developed by E-ON Climate and Renewables and contracted by White Construction Inc. The 150.4 MW project consisted of 94 GE 1.6 MW wind turbine generators.
The 20,000-acre project site was built on an existing farming community that produces corn and soybeans, and a majority of the farmland is still usable. Settler's Trail was designed to integrate the wind turbines into the existing farmland. During construction, each wind turbine disrupted approximately four acres of property for one crop season. However upon completion, farmers could continue to harvest crops up to 15 feet of the surrounding turbine base in most cases. The final impact area is less than 1/20th of an acre loss of farming production, and farmers are also compensated by E-ON for power produced by the turbines.
The project was also constructed using a sequencing method, which benefitted both E-ON and the farmers. According to White Construction, wind turbine projects are designed with a specific number of turbines tied together by collector circuits, which feed independently to a substation. Settlers Farm was built in a sequential fashion that completed all circuits simultaneously, and allowed E-ON to begin power generation on each circuit as they were completed and earn early revenue on the power produced from the wind farm.
Settlers Trail allowed for more than 80 jobs during construction, which cumulated over 200,000 work hours, and now employs approximately 12 new permanent positions to support the daily operations and maintenance.