Latigo Wind Park update
Apr 26, 2016 | 6994 views | 0 0 comments | 266 266 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Wind turbines are a new addition to the San Juan County landscape.  Photo courtesy Latigo Wind Park
Wind turbines are a new addition to the San Juan County landscape. Photo courtesy Latigo Wind Park
Dear Editor:

As you reported last month, the Latigo Wind Park began commercial operation on March 11. We want to take this opportunity to thank the community for their patience with the increased traffic, and to express our excitement about becoming part of the local economy.

We have been operating for more than a month now and are pleased that most of the bugs have been worked out of the system.

It may be of interest to your readers to learn that during the month of March, the Latigo Wind Park produced more than 10,000 total megawatt-hours of energy.

In the production process, a very small amount of energy is consumed to keep the transformers and electronic equipment available and on standby for when wind conditions meet generation thresholds.

The amount of electricity consumed by the entire park is less than one percent of the amount that is produced, meaning more than 99 percent of the energy produced by the wind farm goes on to the grid.

Latigo uses 27 2.3-megawatt wind turbine generators. Each turbine has the capacity to generate up to 2.3 megawatts (MW) of power. How much it generates is based on how fast the wind is blowing.

Each turbine design has a power curve that gives the power output associated with various wind speeds for each turbine. Wind turbine technologies have advanced a great deal and now allow for more generation at lower wind speeds.

At lower wind speeds, the turbine will still generate power and might, for example, generate 1.1MW of power rather than the full 2.3MW. As wind speeds increase, the turbine will generate more and more power until it reaches the maximum of 2.3MW.

This is especially important at a site like Latigo because the wind tends to blow much of the time but generally at relatively slower wind speeds.

Large utilities, like Rocky Mountain Power, have broad portfolios of power generation resources that help serve the needs of their customers. These range from huge coal, nuclear and hydroelectric plants to smaller natural gas plants with biogas, geothermal, wind and solar in between.

A wide range of generating assets is needed to support an equally wide and varied portfolio of electrical demand. The addition of intermittent sources of power generation such as wind and solar has added complexity to the management of the electrical grid but also has significant benefits.

Fortunately, as these sources of power generation have come online, there has been a proliferation of electric-grid management improvements that can prevent wasted energy resources. For example, the use of natural gas generating plants that have the ability to ramp up and ramp down very quickly to fill gaps in generation.

Even though there are some challenges with integrating intermittent resources like wind and solar into the grid, there are also great benefits because they have no fuel costs. Unlike natural gas or coal power plants, the “cost” of the wind and the sun never changes, so the cost of power from these sources is predictable over the long term.

The challenge to a utility is to ensure the amount of power demanded matches the power produced. This requires intermittent resources like wind and solar to work with utilities to enable accurate generation projections by providing up to the minute weather forecasts.

To that end, each of Latigo’s turbines is equipped with its own weather station located at the top of each tower. Real-time conditions from turbines are reported to the utility every five minutes. The data is added to weather data from many other sources to arrive at a reliable energy forecast for the wind park.

We’d like to thank the residents of Monticello and the surrounding areas for their support. We’re proud to be the sponsor of the largest private investment on private land in San Juan County history and of the economic benefits the Latigo Wind Park will bring over the life of the project. We appreciate the opportunity to join this tight-knit community.

Kind regards,

Latigo Wind Park Team
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