Colorado Highlands Wind nearing completion

The world’s second largest crane is used to “fly” rotor assemblies into place at the top of one of 42 wind turbines comprising this project.

The 67-megawatt Colorado Highlands Wind project, now under construction in northeastern Colorado, is expected to begin commercial operation by early next month, according to Jim Michael, managing member of Colorado Highlands Wind, LLC, the owner and operator of the new facility.

Tri-State signed a 20-year power purchase agreement for the project last February and since then construction has ramped up rapidly to take advantage of the Federal Production Tax Credit that is due to expire at the end of this year.

Up to 200 employees from RMT Energy — the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor — as well as local trade and craft personnel have been working on the project seven days a week through the summer months when temperatures reached a blistering 107 degrees.

The state’s latest wind farm features state-of-the-art wind turbine design and technology. The diameter of the triple-bladed rotors extend 100 meters across, instead of the more typical 80 meters found on older wind turbines. Each of the 1.6-megawatt GE wind turbine generators utilize blades constructed out of carbon fiber and each of the blades is equipped with wind velocity sensors that instantly adjust blade pitch for maximum efficiency and performance.

The latest generation in wind turbines will provide maximum efficiency and performance at the Colorado Highlands Wind Project.

The 5,200-acre wind site, about 20 miles northeast of Sterling, Colo., is within the service territory of Tri-State member Highline Electric Association (Holyoke, Colo.) and, as such, relies on the local co-op to provide station service to its operations and maintenance facilities.

As of Nov. 8, only 11 of the 42 wind turbine generators were awaiting upper assembly components. Testing and commissioning of the 31 completed turbines is underway and some of the first units began producing power this week.

When completed, the Colorado Highlands Wind Project will be Tri-State’s second major utility-scale wind resource. In 2010, Tri-State began purchasing the output of the 51-megawatt Kit Carson Windpower site, which is located in the service territory of Tri-State member K.C. Electric Association (Hugo, Colo.), north of Burlington, Colo.

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