AES Wind Generation celebrated a new addition at its Storm Lake site Thursday. President of the company Marty Crotty of Arlington, Va. was on hand for the occasion as was general manager Don Root.
A crane has been added to the site which consists of 106 wind turbines. Crane work is always necessary and in the past a crane company was hired to complete the work; that is quite costly. With a crane on site, and trained workers within the company, this will be a great cost savings to AES.
The new crane has a 330' main boom and is moveable, though it must be dismantled to do so. The crane work consists of various maintenance activity, Crotty said; replacing generators, replacing generator boxes and replacing blades. Preventative maintenance is done all year on the turbines.
An interesting fact is that the black blades used on the turbines will soon be replaced with white blades. The black blades absorb heat and tend to crack in the summer as well as in the winter. Lightning strikes many of the blades; the new white blades have lightning protection installed in them which will divert the energy to the ground rather than terminating the blades. The new crane will be used to make the blade changes as well.
There are two Storm Lake wind farms. Construction at the site began in 1998 and it was commissioned in 1999. AES has owned the SL2 site since May 2007, purchasing it from GE.
Crotty is proud of the site and the other wind sites the company owns worldwide including such places as Sri Lanka, Bulgaria, Scotland, France and a number of sites within the United States.
"Wind energy is growing at a rapid pace in the U.S.," commented Crotty and he hopes it will continue to grow.
He shared that a great deal of research has been done on wildlife and environmental issues that may be of a concern. "The turbines have no impacts on birds or wildlife," he said. Employees working on the turbines have seen deer walk right up to within a few feet of them, unafraid.
"If you look around, you will see that the land is being used for what it was intended to be used for," Crotty said, as he looked around at the crops growing around the turbines. "These (turbines) provide a multiple purpose to the land" as well as provides the land owners with additional funds.
The crane will be put to work nearly immediately.