NEG Micon has reported that the company’s new Wind Turbine Watch/24-Hour Surveillance program has aided in improving the average availability of its North American wind turbines to 98.25 percent in just the first 12 months of operation. Wind Turbine Watch (which NEG Micon said is the first service of its kind in North America) particularly aided in turbine availability levels reaching 99.1 percent in July and August of 2003.Rolling Meadows, Illinois – December 30, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] “Through a little innovation and listening to our customers, we have created a program that further improves the availability of our wind turbines, while earning our customers money over the lifetime of a wind power project,” said Andris Cukurs, president and CEO of NEG Micon North America. NEG Micon has enrolled more than 550 of its 800 wind turbines in North America to be monitored for any abnormalities that might arise, so they can be quickly reset and available for power generation. It is not uncommon for any wind turbine to show one or two abnormalities on its control system per year. For example, if extreme weather moves through a region the wind farm may show a temporary uptick on the surveillance system. The Wind Turbine Watch program is administered by a surveillance center, located in Champaign, Illinois, which began monitoring in October 2002 with a staff of technicians working around the clock to view wind turbine operations in the U.S. and Canada. Through a remote monitoring system that is connected to the turbinesý control system, the Wind Turbine Watch program allows a technician to continuously monitor operations and immediately learn of abnormalities that may arise. Already, NEG Micon has added over 18,000 hours to wind power project operations in North America, which equates to bonus production time, and customer revenue valued at approximately US$265,000. By mid to late 2004, the program is estimated to earn customers more than $500,000. As more wind turbines are brought into the program, and operation hours continue to be recovered, the revenue for customers will also improve. Eventually, the company anticipates monitoring nearly every NEG Micon wind turbine in the world through this service. “Wind Turbine Watch allows us to further refine maintenance of wind turbines because we can better determine the type of work required before we even leave the office,” said Daniel Mandli, director of service and maintenance for NEG Micon North America. “There are also interesting trends that show up during certain seasons and in specific terrains, which helps us better anticipate and specialize the type of service for each wind park.” If a wind turbine shows an abnormality on the system, the surveillance team takes one of several steps to immediately address the situation. Often a surveillance technician can immediately, remotely reset the turbine for production. Other situations might include sending a message to a technician that shows details of a mechanical issue, which is then evaluated by the service technician to determine the type of turbine work required and know the tool or part needed onsite. In general, NEG Micon service technicians are continuing to improve turbine up-time because they are learning about the abnormalities faster and resetting the turbines sooner. The Wind Turbine Watch/24-Hour Surveillance program is not exclusive to North America. NEG Micon also has centers in Denmark and Germany, which are monitoring wind turbines in Denmark, Germany, Spain, UK, Japan and a number of other countries. The company anticipates linking up all three (or more) surveillance centers to allow monitoring of all NEG Micon wind turbines worldwide. This situation creates redundancy and is especially helpful when a region is hit with a storm and might require more staff to address a potential temporary rise in abnormalities.