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Hurricane update: Small-scale wind to aid Puerto Rico

Hurricane update: Small-scale wind to aid Puerto Rico
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Much of Puerto Rico remains in the dark after Hurricane Maria, which destroyed most of the island’s electric grid. Now, in an effort to get the lights back on, the Distributed Wind Energy Association (DWEA) is organizing an effort to send microgrids and small-scale wind turbines to the island.

“U.S. manufacturers, financiers, and system integrators are coordinating to provide on-site power solutions to those appropriately situated and in need,” according to a statement from DWEA. “With the shipping restrictions recently lifted, DWEA and its members are preparing to respond.”

“This group is only a fraction representing the calls to action that we have heard from our membership,” said Jennifer Jenkins, executive director of DWEA. “People want to help. Their hearts are breaking for those that have been devastated by the hurricanes. We have a solution and are working hard to make it a timely one.”

“We are going to do everything we can as an industry to bring power to the people in Puerto Rico,” said Russell Tencer, CEO of United Wind and DWEA board president.

Puerto Rico is also home to two utility-scale wind farms. Reports indicate many of the island’s large-scale turbines survived the storm unscathed, and can begin generating electricity again once the grid has been repaired. Other turbines appear to have sustained varying levels of damage. We will provide updates as we get more information.

Post-Hurricane Harvey Texas update

Because coastal Texas wind farms did not experience a direct hit like those in Puerto Rico, virtually all of those projects were immediately back online and producing electricity once the highest winds passed.

Turbines are typically shut down at wind speeds above about 55 mph, with their blades feathered, and yaw mechanisms used to rotate the nacelle of the wind turbine, minimizing stress on the equipment. The only storm damage we’re aware of that brought a wind farm offline in Texas resulted from loss of the local distribution and transmission grid near the two wind farms close to Corpus Christi. They too were back online in less than a week after the storm’s landfall.

See a blog from the Southern Wind Energy Association and a story in North American Windpower for more information.

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Greg is AWEA's Deputy Director of External Communications. He is the head editor and writer for Into the Wind, and oversees AWEA's online content and opinion writing. Greg holds a Master's degree in Global Environmental Policy from American University's School of International Service. He also holds a Bachelor's degree in International Relations and Journalism from Lehigh University.

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