News roundup: New jobs on "Route 66," Siemens scores a major order, wind turbines more durable

26 February 2014 by Peebles Squire Peebles Squire

In addition to AWEA’s Wind Power on Capitol Hill, today we have a trio of good news stories to check out. First Wind’s Route 66 project is creating good jobs and tax revenues, a Kansas Siemens facility receives a whopping order, and wind turbines pass the durability test.

First Wind is a U.S. based renewable energy developer, and their Route 66 project in Texas is helping power the local economy with tax revenues and construction jobs:

  • The Route 66 Wind project is expected to deliver power to the ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) power markets through the new CREZ (Competitive Renewable Energy Zone) transmission system, and will generate clean, renewable energy through a capacity of 150 megawatts (MW).
  • “We are excited to complete the financing and continue construction of the Route 66 Wind project, which is our first project in the State of Texas,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind.  “This financing is an important milestone for the construction of Route 66 Wind, and we appreciate the commitment of our financial and construction partners to help us bring cost-competitive, renewable energy to Texas.  We also appreciate the support we’ve received from county officials and local landowners.  We are glad to be able to make a direct investment into the local economy throughout the construction and successful operations of the project.”
  • Construction work began in late 2013, and is expected to create hundreds of jobs in the state of Texas. M.A. Mortenson is acting as the prime contractor.  With construction activity on Route 66 Wind starting in 2013, the project will qualify for the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC).

Siemens’s wind energy plant in Hutchinson, Kansas, has such a demand for new turbines, it’s hiring people to keep pace:

  • Hutchinson’s Siemens Wind plant has received an order for 64 of its 3.0-megawatt direct-drive turbines for a wind farm in North Dakota, the first large order for the direct-drive turbines now manufactured in part at the Hutchinson plant.
  • “Hutchinson’s employment levels are over 330 full-time employees and we are in the hiring process,” Myca Welch, a spokeswoman at the plant, stated in an email. “Not all our open positions will directly work on assembling the D3 unit, but will support operations throughout the plant.”
  • Installation of the new turbines is scheduled to begin in mid-June 2014, and commercial operation is slated for December 2014, according to the release. The contract includes transportation, installation and commissioning, as well as a three-year service and maintenance agreement. The 205-MW Bison 4 addition will increase the wind complex’s total MW output to 460 MW.

A report from the UK’s Imperial College Business School concludes that modern wind turbines are more than well equipped to handle 25 years of generation before needing upgrades:

  • “There have been concerns about the costs of maintaining ageing wind farms and whether they are worth investing in,” said professor Richard Green, a co-author of the paper and the Head of the Department of Management at the Imperial College Business School. “This study gives a ‘thumbs up’ to the technology and shows that renewable energy is an asset for the long term.”
  • The study pulled data from NASA to determine the wind speed at each onshore wind farm in the United Kingdom over two decades. The researchers then compared those numbers with the actual recorded electrical output from each wind farm to build a formula for how wear and tear affects the turbines. The previous study that found a lower lifespan took a far less granular approach, only looking at average estimates of nationwide wind speeds.
  • Beyond their topline numbers, the researchers also found evidence that the latest turbines are performing even better than their earliest models, suggesting they could outlast the 25-year threshold.

Be sure to check out this week’s other roundups:

Sources:

Paul Dvorak, “Texas wind project creates construction jobs, boost local tax revenues from 75 turbines.” Windpower Engineering & Development. 25 February 2014.

John Green, “Siemens gets large order for 3.0 MW turbines now made in Hutchinson.” The Hutchinson News. 25 February 2014.

Jess Spross, “Study: Wind Turbines Are Much More Durable Than Previously Thought.” ThinkProgress. 25 February 2014.