The State's First Wind Turbine Twins Tower Above the Plains

In late 1998, several Nebraska utilities starting learning how to harvest electricity from wind. Two wind turbines in Springview in north central Nebraska and one turbine north of Lincoln were added to the traditional mix - water, coal, natural gas and nuclear - to generate electricity.

"These turbines are a major step in testing reliability of wind generation of electricity in this region of the United States," Bill Mayben, head of Nebraska Public Power District, said at the October dedication of the generators in Springview. "We expect to learn a lot about this form of renewable energy in the next few years and contemplate the possibility that wind generation will be an important contribution to our renewable energy portfolio in the long range future."

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1 Assembly of the top portion of the 123,000 lb.
lattice tower.

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2 The center portion of the 20-story lattice tower
is lifted into place.

 

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3 Tower construction crew torquing bolts at the base of the lattice tower.

 

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4 The top section of unit number one is lifted
in to place during tower assembly.

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5 Five foot diameter rotor blades being prepared for assembly with rotor hub. 
Hay bales help support the blades during assembly.

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6 Heavy-lift crane places generator and nacelle
on top of unit number two tower.

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7 Crane lifts the 50 meter diameter rotor to the
top of unit number one.

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8 Attaching the rotor and hub to the 750 kilowatt
generator assembly.

 

 

 

 

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9 Overall view of the wind generation site after completion.

Hard To Miss

The turbines dominate the landscape and are built to withstand the prairie winds for which the region is famous. The support towers are nearly 20 stories tall and weigh more than 123,000 pounds. The rotor blades that are attached at the top of the tower add nearly another 100 feet to the height. A generator that sits atop each tower weighs 50,000 pounds. Electricity is generated when wind speeds are between 6.5 and 54 miles per hour.

"These turbines are truly a historic event for this part of Nebraska," Rich Walters, manager of KBR Public Power District, said. "We've come full circle in the state, from windmills to pump groundwater during the last century, to high technology wind turbines which add electricity to the transmission system of the 21st century."

Problem Solved

A glitch that caused the turbines to be shut down in early November has been resolved. Shortly after the turbines became operational on October 23, local residents noticed a humming noise on telephone lines and data transmissions were being disrupted.

According to staff at KBR, the local power company, changes were made to the turbines after weeks of study by experts from California, Maine and Washington. Filtering systems were added to the both the turbine and utility lines, a ground wire was added to eliminate circulating currents and the turbines' output frequency was changed. One turbine was restarted in December and the second one was turned on in January.

Two national sources, the Electric Power Research Institute and the U.S. Department of Energy and six Nebraska utilities have provided funding totaling more than $2 million for the turbines:

Return to the Winter 1999 Newsletter