August 25, 2011
Wind Farm Productivity Comparable to Iowa’s
Production figures from wind energy projects owned by Wisconsin utilities reveal that there is no significant difference between wind farms in Iowa and the Badger State, according to an analysis of utility annual reports performed by RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide organization advocating for public policies and private initiatives that advance renewable energy.
The most productive wind project last year was Wisconsin Public Service’s Crane Creek project in Howard County, Iowa, followed closely by Wisconsin Power and Light’s Cedar Ridge project in Fond du Lac County. (See table below.) The output from both projects in 2010 exceeded 30 percent of their rated capacity. Capacity factor is a measure of actual output relative to potential output if the turbine ran 100 percent of the time at full capacity.
“These figures suggest that the winds in Wisconsin can deliver significant quantities of clean energy to nearby users,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW. “This is especially true of the newer turbines with taller towers and longer blades.”
“Clearly Wisconsin ratepayers are getting their money’s worth from Wisconsin’s newest wind projects,” Vickerman said. “Moreover, the host communities reap considerable economic benefits in the form of payments to local governments and landowners.”
Differences in output between wind projects in the same region can be attributable to causes other than the wind resource itself. These can include shutdowns caused by grid congestion and operating restrictions aimed at minimizing impacts on wildlife and project neighbors.
“The evidence suggests that Cedar Ridge is a standout performer among Wisconsin wind projects, and every bit as productive as the projects in Iowa owned by Wisconsin utilities,” said Vickerman.