SCHENECTADY, USA: GE will supply 300 megawatts of its latest wind turbine technology including operation and maintenance services for the Settlers Trail Wind Farm in Iroquois County, Illinois, and the Pioneer Trail Wind Farm in Iroquois and Ford Counties in Illinois. E.ON Climate & Renewables, NA (ECRNA) is developing the projects.
A total of 188 GE 1.6 wind turbines, which represent the latest evolution of the company’s wind turbine technology, will power the Settlers Trail and Pioneer Trail wind farms. The new units will be covered under an existing ECRNA-GE operation and maintenance service agreement, which will maximize turbine availability and production across ECRNA’s installed base of GE wind turbines in the United States.
The GE wind turbines—94 at each wind farm—will be spread across several thousand acres of rural farmland in northeast Illinois. At full capacity, the wind farms will generate enough power for approximately 115,000 US households.
“Settlers Trail and Pioneer Trail are examples of how wind projects can bring jobs, rental income for farmers and property tax benefits to rural regions,” said Steve Trenholm, CEO, ECRNA. “These projects also will help Illinois move closer to meeting its Renewables Portfolio Standard requirement to have 25 percent of the state’s power supplied by renewable energy resources by 2024-2025.”
According to a recent study by Illinois State University’s Center for Renewable Energy, Illinois wind farms have created more than 9,900 full-time construction jobs and nearly 500 permanent positions in rural areas of the state. Operating wind farms also have provided $18 million in local property taxes and $8.3 million in rental income to farmers and landowners.
“We are proud to be a part of Illinois’ growing number of wind turbines and our 1.6 megawatt technology is a great fit for the wind regime delivering efficient, clean energy production to the community,” said Victor Abate, vice president of GE’s Renewable Energy business. “Supported by our latest service offerings, Settlers Trail and Pioneer Trail will be a reliable source of energy as well as a welcome boost for the rural economy of Illinois.”
GE’s 1.6-megawatt wind turbines have evolved from the proven experience of the company’s 1.5-megawatt wind turbine technology, the workhorse of the global wind power industry with more than 16,000 units installed worldwide. The 1.6 machines for Settlers Trail and Pioneer Trail will feature 82.5-meter diameter rotors with 80-meter towers.
Projects like Settlers Trail and Pioneer Trail are helping Illinois become a wind powerhouse. According to the American Wind Energy Association, Illinois has moved up to sixth in the United States in wind energy production, with more than 2,286 megawatts of installed wind power capacity at the end of March 2011.
In particular, the northern and central parts of the state offer wind speeds that make wind farms economically viable. More importantly, these sites are near existing high-voltage power lines, enabling cost-effective transmission to Chicago and other major Midwestern population centers.