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.
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.”