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New wind power for New York

EDF Renewables North America is now delivering wind power in upstate New York, with the completion of its 80-MW Copenhagen Wind Project, which Renewable Energy Systems (RES) was in charge of building during some very snowy weather.

By Paul MacDonald

Wind power and renewable energy look to be on a roll in the northeastern U.S.

A case in point is that in his State of the State address at the beginning of this year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo outlined an extremely ambitious renewable energy plan for the state and its close to 20 million residents: achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2040.

If approved, New York's new renewable target would surpass those set in other states, even renewable energy leaders California and Hawaii, which have both pledged to generate 100 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2045.

And New York is looking to generate a lot of that clean energy with wind power. In addition to ramping up offshore wind power—with a massive goal of 9 GW from offshore wind—Cuomo's proposal also calls for considerable increases in land-based wind power. At the end of 2018, New York State had installed capacity of 1,987 MW. Recent wind projects in the region will be helping to meet Cuomo's goal, and those of other states in the northeast.

Early this year, EDF Renewables North America announced that its 80-megawatt (MW) Copenhagen Wind Project in New York State is now fully operational and delivering electricity. The project has a 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Rhode Island-based Narragansett Electric Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of major utility National Grid.

EDF Renewables is one of the largest renewable energy developers in North America with 16 gigawatts of wind, solar, and storage projects developed throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

Located in Lewis and Jefferson counties in upstate New York, Copenhagen Wind provided a large number of jobs during the construction phase and invested $15 million in supplies, equipment, utilities, and fuel sourced from local businesses.

The expected electricity generated at full capacity is enough to meet the consumption of up to 35,000 average homes.?

The 80-MW Copenhagen Wind Farm project consists of 40 2-MW turbines manufactured by Vestas Wind Systems A/S, and it became operational in December 2018.

 
  

But EDF Renewables says the wind farm development began quite a while before that, in 2006, with a partnership between EDF Renewables' team of wind power professionals and the Copenhagen/Denmark community in upstate New York. Through the years, the community and EDF Renewables have worked together to ensure community benefits outside of the standard economic impacts such as tax revenue, land lease payments, and job creation, says the company.

EDF Renewables created WinDenmark, a group of citizens from the town of Denmark, to distribute funds donated to the community by EDF Renewables.

Colorado-based RES (Renewable Energy Systems), a leader in the development, engineering, and construction of wind, solar, transmission, and energy storage projects, built the Copenhagen Wind project.

"RES has met the challenge to deliver clean energy to New York head on," says Rick Ortiz, RES senior vice president of Wind Construction. "We are proud of working alongside EDF Renewables to make clean energy a reality in New York and are particularly grateful to our team that engaged with the local community."

The construction, which began in 2017, employed more than 300 workers at its peak with 300,000 man-hours of labor completed safely with no lost-time injuries. All this in an area that receives one of the highest levels of snowfall in the United States.

Planning is key to the successful construction of any wind power project, and for RES the planning started in the spring of 2016.

In terms of their overall approach, RES creates a plan to outline the flow of work before getting to job sites, both from a civil standpoint (building roads) and erection standpoint (turbine arrival). "From there, we simply stick to the plan," says Ortiz.

The Copenhagen Wind project is the first wind project that RES has self-performed in New York State.

 
 

The 80-MW Copenhagen Wind Farm project has 40 2-MW turbines manufactured by Vestas Wind Systems A/S. The expected electricity generated at full capacity is enough to meet the consumption of up to 35,000 average homes.

  

"Copenhagen Wind isn't the first project that RES has self-performed, but it is the first self-performed project in New York," explained Ortiz. "Self-perform means RES constructed the project with locally hired craft and subcontractor crews.

"In order to self-perform, we had to be compliant with New York rules and regulations, particularly environmental rules and regulations. In some instances, we had to use New York certified crane operators. These things are not atypical to projects in any other state except that New York is more stringent environmentally."

Ortiz said that having a permit plan in place is essential as there are many state, county, and township entities that are involved in the wind project construction process. Most permits were through the county, although several were through the state and local townships (for access road permits). Permits to bore under the highway were obtained through the state. Building permits for O&M and substation permits were run through the county.

"The state also had to be notified even after permits were approved to bore under State Highway 12," Ortiz noted. "The requirement was to notify 72 hours prior to the operation happening, so they could observe as the bore was installed."

Accessibility to the site itself was good. The project site runs down State Highway 12, with the nearest major town being Watertown, New York.

The project site is on agricultural land. Ortiz reports that there was a good county road system already in place, and all the access roads came off these county roads. RES built approximately 12 access roads to turbines off county roads and widened or improved existing roads near the site for trucks delivering components.

 

The Copenhagen Wind Farm project site is on agricultural land, and there was a good county road system already in place. RES built 12 access roads to turbines off the county roads and widened or improved existing roads near the site for trucks delivering components.

 
  

RES had a laydown yard that housed an office complex and some of the material for the project. However, no turbine components were stored there—all the Vestas turbine components went directly to the turbine sites, which were often quite rocky.

Snow was a very major consideration. Ortiz said that, overall, weather was a huge factor in the Copenhagen project. "We had five feet of snow on Christmas Day, and the next day, we were working in mud. The project area is located east of Lake Ontario and wind blows across the lake—both warm and cold wind.

"It's the most drastic snowmelt area in the entire country with ongoing freeze-melt conditions," Ortiz added. "We built roads during dry days, mitigated by plowing snow, and got things done in weather permitting conditions."

RES has installed over 10 gigawatts of wind power in its history. "During this time, we have developed procedures to install all major brands of turbines, work instructions for civil and electrical installation in every soil condition, and have a very experienced management team and craft pool," says Ortiz.

In fact, RES is among the world's largest independent renewable energy construction companies. RES has delivered more than 16 GW of renewable energy projects across the globe and supports an operational asset portfolio exceeding 3.5 GW worldwide for a large client base.?

While it operates around the globe, RES also acts locally. With the Copenhagen wind project, it partnered with local groups in Lewis and Jefferson Counties and secured a significant level of community involvement.?RES employees engaged in various community support initiatives throughout the construction period, including raising money for a food drive for senior citizens, a donation to build a new playground at a local school, and donating blood for the local American Red Cross.

Now that it is operational, EDF Renewables Asset Optimization will perform asset management services to increase the Copenhagen project's operational performance as well as balance-of-plant and 24/7/365 remote monitoring and diagnostics from its San Diego-based Operations Control Center (OCC), to increase equipment availability and reduce downtime.

While the Copenhagen wind project is now complete, the region could see further wind power activity. Three other wind power projects are being considered for Lewis County, where the Copenhagen project is located. This single county could prove to be a major contributor to Governor Andrew Cuomo's ambitious renewable energy objectives for New York State.

 


Spring 2019