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WY Utility's First Wind Farm Faces Replacement

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

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A Wyoming utility company has filed a permit to replace its first wind farm—originally commissioned in 1998, composed of over 65 turbines—located at Foote Creek Rim I. The replacement would downsize the number of turbines to 12, which would still generate roughly the same energy output.

According to the Star Tribune, PacifiCorp’s new installation would involve new nacelles, new towers and new blades. The permit was filed with Carbon County.

New WY Wind Farm

The replacement wind turbines will stand more than twice as tall as the old: Those currently installed stand 200 feet tall, whereas their replacements will tower closer to 500 feet. Though this move is part of the company’s overall plan to expand its state wind fleet, the work going into the Foote Creek site is somewhat special, noted David Eskelsen, spokesperson for Rocky Mountain Power, the western arm of PacifiCorp.


A Wyoming utility company has filed a permit to replace its first wind farm—originally commissioned in 1998, composed of over 65 turbines—located at Foote Creek Rim I. The replacement would downsize the number of turbines to 12, which would still generate roughly the same energy output.

“Foote Creek I repowering is somewhat different from the repowering projects announced in the (Energy Vision) 2020 initiative,” he said. “Foote Creek is a complete replacement of the existing 68 foundations, towers, turbine nacelles and rotors (blades).”

Currently, the turbines at Foote Creek have 600 kilowatts capacity each; the replacements’ maximum production ranges from 2 megawatts to 4.2 megawatts each, with the total output remaining steady at 41.4 megawatts, though there will be a slight capacity increase to 41.6 megawatts, according to the Star Tribune.

As part of the wind farm repowering initiative, PacifiCorp is to become full owner and operator of the Foote Creek site. When the farm was originally built, an Oregon-based water and electric board was 21 percent owner; 37 percent of the project’s output was tied into a contract with the Bonneville Power Administration.

Otherwise, PacifiCorp is moving to further expand its state wind fleet with the addition of three new wind farms—to be located in Carbon, Albany and Converse counties—which may add up to 1,150 megawatts of power.

According to PacifiCorp, the company has more than 1,000 megawatts of owned wind generation capability, along with long-term purchase agreements for more than 600 megawatts from other wind farms owned by other entities. Energy Vision 2020 refers to a $3.5 billion investment and company move that is looking to upgrade the company's existing wind fleet with newer technology, adding 1,150 megawatts of new wind resources by 2020 and a a new 140-mile Gateway West transmission segment in Wyoming.


Tagged categories: Business operations; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Wind Farm; Wind Towers

Comment from Joe Doherty, (2/12/2019, 6:51 AM)

WOW! a life expectancy of only 20 years! 65 200 foot wind tunnels will go in the trash? Do they have batteries (or other devices) that must go to special landfills also? Are most of the parts recyclable? This puts wind power at a whole new light for me. Great that we have workers that will obviously stay employed for a long time. Replacing all the other existing wind mills. IF they follow all safety procedures that is.

Comment from Michael Halliwell, (2/12/2019, 12:05 PM)

Yup...wind turbines only last 20-25 years (expect the cost of wind generated power to rise significantly soon as companies have to replace towers, nacelles and rotors) and solar panels are rated for 80% after 20 years (if properly maintained and cleaned). Hopefully a bunch of the bits can be recycled...otherwise, these green technologies aren't all that much greener overall than what they replace.

Comment from Andrew Piedl, (2/13/2019, 1:06 AM)

It sounds like an upgrade.

Comment from Paul Hayles, (2/13/2019, 8:43 AM)

These green technology companies they forget to tell you / us all the maintenance up keep cost. Money , Money....

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (2/20/2019, 9:52 AM)

Usually a "repowering" of a wind farm in this timeframe means the owners expect increased profits VS leaving the current equipment in place. I don't know why Michael would expect costs to rise - the original equipment would be long paid off, and the new equipment would be expected to have lower maintenance and higher capacity factor (the "41.6MW" above is peak output - higher towers and larger modern turbines will usually mean that output is closer to that peak for more of the time). Steel from the towers and various metals from the nacelles is easily recycled - not so much the blades. They're typically mostly hollow composites (like fiberglass). Even with this early repowering, wind is still far cleaner than coal - both in terms of amount of material used, and in the amount of pollution emitted (particulate pollution, heavy metals, etc) - even when compared to a modern coal plant. There was a recent report here in Texas which looked at groundwater sampling around every coal ash stockpile - every single one was contaminated with excess (above limits) of at least one heavy metal, if not more.

Comment from Michael Halliwell, (2/22/2019, 12:00 PM)

Tom, my experience and local power regs are different. We're shuttering our last 6-8 remaining coal fired units within a couple years, so that comparison drops out here. In my case, the generators apply to the regulator to pass on all capital costs to the consumer via a rate surcharge. Yes, you'd think the motivation would be re-investing capital to increase production and make more power (and corresponding profit)...but here, it's "free upgrade on the backs of consumers" time.

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