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Frequently Asked Questions
What effect do wind turbines have on the transmission grid?
Wind turbines can provide a unity power factor and help in stabilizing voltage. Newer wind generators have switched capacitors that are applied as generation and VAR demand increases, keeping power factor above 99 percent. One turbine now on the market uses power electronics and a variable speed rotor to automatically maintain the desired grid voltage or reactive power flow to the utility. This design feature is particularly beneficial to weaker grids.
Availability is usually high with modern wind turbines. Most Wesco Wins wind plants using newer technology are running at greater than 98.5 percent, with effective forced outage rates typically less then 1 percent. Turbine maintenance is usually completed twice a year, resulting in about 12 to 18 hours of downtime for each session, although only a few turbines are generally down at any one time due to maintenance. The only time an entire facility comes off-line is for substation maintenance, which lasts for less than 12 hours and occurs twice a year, usually during low production periods.
A study of system interface and operational issues by Robert Putnam of Electrotek Concepts found no insurmountable challenges. He noted, "Any issues that have developed, such as intermittency and voltage regulation, can be addressed by accepted power system procedures and practices." (Source: American Wind Energy Association in Wind Energy Weekly #680, 15 January 1996.)