Amid a backdrop of rolling wheat fields the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) commissioned 55 new turbines bringing the total number of turbines at the SMUD Solano Wind Project to 107. Completed on time and $5 million dollars under budget, Phase 3 will join the existing fleet in taking advantage of the windiest months of the year. Phase 3 adds 128 megawatts (MW) of capacity, which is enough to power approximately 44,000 homes.
The project now has a total of 230 MW of capacity or enough to power approximately 79,000 homes. “SMUD was the first large California utility to have 20 percent of our power come from renewable sources. We continue to pursue a sustainable and balanced power supply,” said SMUD General Manager & CEO John DiStasio. “Completion of Phase 3 puts SMUD significantly closer to our goal of 33 percent renewable energy by 2020.” A unique aspect of the project is the way 1.8-MW machines were mixed with 3-MW machines. The 31 1.8-MW machines generate more power at low wind speeds while the 24 3-MW machines are more effective at high wind speeds. Combination of the two models is expected to increase annual power production compared to standard layouts.
Vestas manufactured the wind turbines, including many of the main components at its Colorado factories and will maintain them under a long-term contract. “With this expansion we’ve increased our service and maintenance staff at the facility to 17 people,” said Martha Wyrsch, President of Vestas-American Wind Technology, Inc. “With an up to 15-year service agreement we are proud to add long-term jobs to the community as well as help deliver more clean energy to Californians.”
A unit of Citigroup purchased the Phase 3 turbines in a financial transaction that will save SMUD customers $60 million to $70 million over the next six years. “Citi congratulates the Sacramento Municipal Utility District on the development of Phase 3 of the Solano County wind farm,” said Ward Marsh, Managing Director and Global Head of Citi’s Municipal Securities Division. “We’re proud to be part of this innovative public-private partnership, which represents a meaningful contribution to Citi’s goal to direct $50 billion towards renewable energy and clean technology by 2017.”
SMUD has owned wind turbines at the Solano project since 1994. The entire project is located on 5,400 acres of SMUD-owned property in the Collinsville-Montezuma Hills Wind Resource Area in Solano County, California, which is considered one of the best wind resource areas in the state.