New technology will trim local wind farm from 55 turbines to 15

by Marianne Gasaway

Major changes are coming in February 2020 for the Cerro Gordo County Wind Farm south of Clear Lake.  NextEra Energy Resources LLC has announced that it will replace 55 turbines with 15 new ones which will generate the same amount of energy.

“Since building the Cerro Gordo Wind Energy Center in 1999 there have been significant enhancements in turbine technology,” stated Project Developer Mike Weich.  “We will be working to rebuild the wind energy center and generate the same amount of energy using far fewer wind turbines.  Expected maximum capacity of up to 40 megawatts will be produced by 15 new, state-of-the-art GE turbines.”

Currently, the wind farm occupies 2.4 acres on a site over 2,000 acres.  It produces enough energy to supply 20,000 homes and businesses in the area.  Each unit generates less than one megawatt of energy, is approximately 187-feet tall and sits on a 30 x 30 foot section of land.

The new turbines will stand 291-feet tall.

Weich said agreements are not finalized with landowners, who may no longer have a turbine on their property but may still remain participants in the project due to their location.  Thirteen landowners participate in the current wind farm project.

According to Weich, all of the components of the existing turbines have scrap value, with the exception of the fiberglass blades.  When the turbines are decommissioned crews will separate out the components and recycle the pieces within the region with whatever services might be capable of handling the volume.  The fiberglass blades will be transported to a recycler who is capable of reducing the fiberglass to pellet size, which can be used in new construction materials.

Underground wiring which is more than four-feet below the surface will be left in place, all other will be removed, say company officials. More than 10 miles of underground cables link the turbines and send the electricity to a electric sub-station.

Total project cost is estimated at

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