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Location: Southern Minnesota, in Nobles County near the cities of Worthington and Reading
Plant Description: 134 1.5-megawatt General Electric wind turbines
Power Production Capability: Up to 200 megawatts (MW). The wind farm can generate enough electricity to serve about 66,500 homes.
About The Facility: Nobles is the second wind farm in Minnesota owned by Xcel Energy, and is the third largest wind project in the state, according to the American Wind
Nobles taps into some of the best wind resources in the nation. The 200 megawatts of wind energy from Nobles adds to the company’s burgeoning wind generation portfolio and solidifies Xcel Energy’s stature as the nation’s No. 1 wind power provider.
The Nobles wind farm, developed for Xcel Energy by enXco Development Corp., began commercial operation in December 2010. The project spans a stretch of farm fields approximately six miles long and eight miles wide. The wind turbines are equipped with variable pitch blades enabling power output to be controlled if desired. The wind turbines also were built with cold-weather tolerant equipment to enable operation in below-zero temperatures.
The Nobles wind turbines can be monitored on-site or remotely at EnXco’s Operations Control Center in southwestern Minnesota. The GE Wind Farm Management System also allows for wind farm power output to be regulated by the transmission system operator.
Wind farm operation and maintenance is conducted by personnel at a facility located on the east side of the project. This control center is connected to the turbines by over 86 miles of buried electric and fiber optic cable. If connected together, access roads to the 134 wind turbines would extend more than 35 miles.
Wind Farm Facts and Figures
A wind turbine works the opposite of an electric fan. Instead of using electricity to make wind, wind turbines use wind to make electricity. The wind turns the blades, which spin a shaft that connects to a generator and makes electricity.
Wind speed affects the power output and generally increases with elevation
|Minimum speed||8.9 mph produces 0.1 MW|
|Rated speed||26.8 mph produces 1.5 MW|
|Maximum wind operating speed||55.9 mph|
Wind Turbine Components
Foundation: Each foundation is a concrete octagon, 50 feet x 50 feet wide and 7 1/2 feet
deep, formed from 322 cubic yards – 33 truckloads – of concrete
Tower: The tower consists of 3 tubular steel sections stacked together, reaching up
262 feet – the height of a 26-story building.
Nacelle: The nacelle is the structure on top of the tower, which houses control equipment
and forms the rotor. Three blades are attached to the rotor.
Blades: The blades are made of fiberglass, each 122 feet in length. Total height of each
wind turbine from base to highest blade is 389 feet.
Xcel Energy has more than 1,500 megawatts (MW) of wind generation in the Upper Midwest and more than 3,400 MW system-wide. The company plans to have up to 5,000 MW in place by 2015.
Xcel Energy purchases most of the wind-powered generation on our system, but we are adding more owned wind generation to diversify our energy portfolio. Multiple competing fuel sources help control costs and assure that we will not become dependent on a single energy source. Wind also produces electricity that is emissions-free.
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Why do our products and services differ based on state? Because our business is regulated by state. We have regulated operations in eight Western and Midwestern states. The different regulatory body for each state we serve determines what products and services we deliver in that state.