A company that purchased a Delaware County wind farm earlier this year is proposing a major upgrade to the farm. Delaware County supervisors heard those plans at their Nov. 9 meeting.
Greenbacker Renewable Energy now owns Elk Wind Farm in Elk Township and proposes repowering all 17 wind turbines at a cost of between $40-$45 million.
While the supervisors took no action and no formal application was submitted, Justin Fike, a consultant working on behalf of Greenbacker, explained the plans.
Greenbacker would keep all existing infrastructure on the ground, including access roads, underground power line, concrete foundations and the steel towers.
The company would replace the nacelle that sits on top of the tower as well as replace each turbine with new, longer blades.
Fike told the supervisors the current 100-meter diameter blades would be replaced with 127-meter diameter blades. “That equates to having 63 % more surface area, meaning we could take the same wind and over the course of a year generate between 20-25 percent more energy.”
While acknowledging the size of the investment, Fike said it would cut down on larger maintenance issues for 10-15 years. He also said it’s the right time for the upgrade.
“If you look around the country right now, there are a lot of projects that are 8-12 years of age that are pursuing repowers. While the project is perfectly functional and capable of running 20-30 more years, there is also a lot of benefit of a repower in the 8-12 year range.”
While the current turbines are Nordex, Greenbacker proposes to replace them with General Electric turbines. Fike said the company would prefer replacing all 17 turbines as opposed to having two different companies each maintaining their units.
“Both companies would be concerned with their intellectual property. It doesn’t make sense to have half the equipment run by one group and the other half by another.”
Fike said the company is in the early stages of reaching out to landowners, something the supervisors said was important.
Fike said Greenbacker hopes to have a formal request for the supervisors in the next couple of months.
“We heard from the board of supervisors loud and clear that they want to make sure landowners are treated fairly. We look to make sure things are tracking along well with the landowners and will be preparing the formal application in parallel to that.”