Fond farewell to OPPD’s first wind turbine

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Valley wind turbine

OPPD’s first and only utility-owned wind turbine has had its last hurrah. The 660-kilowatt turbine that occupied property at Valmont Industries in Valley, was taken down last week.

The Valley wind turbine stood 275-feet tall. That includes the main tower at 205-feet and the blades themselves, which are 70-feet long.

Lee O’Neal, manager of Design Engineering and Administrative Services for OPPD, said the decision to remove the turbine was the result of a potentially expensive maintenance issue that popped up. A planetary gear box failed. To replace it would cost about $215,000.

“The life span on this turbine was only supposed to be about 20 years, anyway,” O’Neal said. That’s the length of time the district has contracted Valmont for use of its land to house the turbine.

“With just four years left, we wouldn’t have recouped the replacement cost,” O’Neal said. “When we look at the economics, it just didn’t make sense.”

The turbine was taken offline Friday, July 21. The three blades and the generator were detached Wednesday, July 26.

In terms of generation, the lone turbine was quite small. Its loss won’t make much of a dent in OPPD’s renewable energy mix. Still, it is of great significance symbolically, having kicked off OPPD’s foray into renewable energy.

As costs have come down, OPPD has continued to add wind in its retail sales portfolio. By 2018, 33 percent of those sales will come from renewable energy, and by 2019 – 40 percent.

The dismantling process was bittersweet, O’Neal said, “but, as with all technology, it’s out-lived its time.”

Jodi Baker

About Jodi Baker

Jodi Baker writes stories and shoots videos for The Wire. Jodi was a television news reporter before she came to work for OPPD as a media specialist in 2013. She's married with two children (a boy and a girl) and an allergy-ridden little Cairn Terrier.

2 thoughts on “Fond farewell to OPPD’s first wind turbine”

    1. James,
      OPPD sold the transformer control panel, with the blades and nacelle portion of the turbine for use in a project within Washington. We took back other parts – the switches, etc., which we will be able to re-use. Thank you for your comment and for reading The Wire.

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