The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), the Texas State Energy Conservation Office (SECO), the Alternative Energy Institute (AEI) at West Texas A&M University, and Meridian Energy Systems collaborated to install a Skystream 3.7 residential-sized wind system at the LCRA’s McKinney Roughs Nature Park near Bastrop, Texas.
The demonstration project was funded by SECO and will be maintained by LCRA. The education staff at McKinney Roughs is working to integrate SECO’s renewable energy curriculum with its own newly developed education programs. Activities such as alternative energy hikes, star parties, and a sustainability workshop series are just a few ways that park visitors will learn about the various forms of renewable energy.
The grid-tied wind turbine was installed on a 70-foot, tilt-down, guyed tower to provide opportunities for hands-on installation workshops, as well as to assist with maintenance procedures. The turbine has an average power rating of 1.8 kilowatts (kW) and operates most efficiently at wind speeds of 12 mph. Because the average annual wind speeds at the park are only 8 mph LCRA predicts that the system, along with a 1-kW solar photovoltaic panel already on site could offset about 2,500 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of power used each year at the nature park’s administration buildings. That equals a projected offset of about 3,400 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year.
But electricity is not the only thing that the renewable energy systems are generating. Since the Skystream’s commission date of January 30, 2009, McKinney Roughs Nature Park has hosted two hands-on installation workshops for its employees and LCRA’s wholesale electric customers. And LCRA plans to host additional workshops for the general public. The system also has brought media attention to McKinney Roughs, resulting in numerous phone calls and attracting visitors from as far away as 100 miles who are interested in learning more about renewable energy technologies.
The project, which took three years to get off the ground, was not without its hurdles, though. Negotiating and coordinating the project with many stakeholders was at times challenging, said Ti Mougne, project manager for LCRA. The contract with SECO was unique in that it contracted AEI to procure and install the system, as well as instruct the installation workshops. But, due to Ken Starcher’s (AEI) west Texas location, LCRA was contracted to manage the project, as well as to assist AEI’s subcontractor Meridian Energy Systems to install the system.
Additionally, LCRA was responsible for finding ways to integrate the renewable energy systems (wind and solar) into the education programs offered at McKinney Roughs. Mougne admits there was a steep learning curve for many involved, including herself. This was Mougne’s first wind turbine project to manage, the installation crew leader’s first wind install (his previous experience only included solar), and renewable energy was unchartered territory for the staff at McKinney Roughs. Starcher, the project’s subject matter expert, even ran into a few challenges when the wrong pipe was ordered and again when the turbine that arrived on site did not match the correct voltage at McKinney Roughs.
For additional information, call Ti Mougne at 1-800-776-5272, Ext. 7950. To read the press release in its entirety, click here.
Source: LCRA Press Release
February 20, 2009