The NextEra Energy Resources Pratt Wind Farm facility is under construction and on schedule to start producing electricity in early November.
Like mythic monoliths, wind generators are rising to the sky in southwest Pratt County. NextEra Energy Resources is currently constructing Pratt Wind Farm that is scheduled to start energy production in November, said Conlan Kennedy, NextEra communications specialist.
Construction began in June and will take take seven months to complete. Before construction, months were spent doing impact reports, getting permits, negotiating with land owners and the county, getting approval for construction, gathering supplies and getting the sub contractors on site. A substation has been constructed and is ready to start handling electricity when the project is contractor Blattner and complete.
Many of the towers and generators are completed and others have all the pieces in place on the ground to start erecting other towers. Wind is a critical factor in setting up towers and the generator and blades.
The bottom two sections of towers can be erected in winds up to 30 mph. The nacelles or generators and blade assembly can be installed safely when winds are from 21 to 25 mph at tops, said Albert Sanchez, NextEra construction manager.
Besides wind, construction depends a lot on moisture. During the Sept. 3 flood, the construction site received over 7 inches of rain. Delivery and set up came to a stand still while the ground dried out so trucks and cranes wouldn’t get stuck.
Spencer Jenkins, Pratt Wind Farm project manager, said the choice to use two companies for the nacelles was made to get the best output for the facility.
Each nacelle has an access hatch that allows workers to have direct access to the blades if necessary. It makes life a lot easier for the construction workers to have that access, Sanchez said.
Under ideal conditions, crews can set a base and construct the blade unit in one day then set the nacelle and blade unit the next for a two-day set up time per unit but that is with perfect conditions. On Oct. 2, winds were in excess of construction safety levels so work was put on hold until the wind died down.
Sanchez said the best way to fly the nacelle and wind blades is to have the wind in your face. It makes connecting those 80 bolts a little easier. The blades are attached to the hub on the ground and the entire assembly is raised in one piece and attached to the nacelle that has already been put in place on top of the tower. A giant crane is used to put each section of tower, nacelle and blades into place.
Timing is critical in construction. Everything has to be in place at the right time so each crew can complete their part of the project and move on to the next tower. A lot of preparation is done to insure each tower is erected in a timely manner.
Another aspect of construction is traffic control. Construction traffic can only use designated roads in the construction zone. The bigger vehicle gets the right of way for safety and to keep traffic moving as efficiently as possible.
NextEra is very aware that this is harvest and planting time for farmers. They make sure all the contractors and sub contractors are aware of local traffic and how to move equipment safely during construction, Sanchez said.
Part of those safety factors is keeping dust down on roadways. Construction traffic is kept at 45 mph. There is a lot of dust control including doing cement treatments in front of local property where houses are located. With the cement and water treatments, there's no water there at all.
On the job safety includes hard hats are mandatory at all times, safety glasses have to be worn, harnesses are required if a worker is over six feet off the ground, there is a weekly safety meeting with everyone to discuss what is happening not only at this site but other NextEra sites as well, Sanchez said.
On the job safety is always top priority, Kennedy said.
Companies involved with the wind farm are Blattner-general contractor and tower erectors, Siemens and GE-nacelles, J.F. Edwards-underground power cable, Energy Erectors-constructed substation, Century Electric-built the transmission lines. Siemens hubs and nacelles come from their Hutchinson facility. The turbine blades come from a facility in Oklahoma and South Dakota.
Pratt Wind Farm Construction numbers:
Construction time of seven months.
Project has 98 Siemens 2.3 megawatt turbines and 8 GE 2.3 megawatt turbines.
Generating capacity is 244 megawatts.
Each turbine site requires 312 cubic yards of concrete, 62,000 pounds of steel rebar and removal of 485 cubic yards of dirt per foundation.
Siemens rotor diameter 108 meters and GE rotor diameter 116 meters.
Each blade weighs 22,490 pounds and is 173 feet long. Total rotor diameter is 354 feet.
Nacelles (generators) weigh 180,000 pounds.
Each completed turbine weighs 633,707 pounds.
Transmission line is 14.5 miles.
Project installed 29 miles of access roads.
Turbine deliver runs from June through September.
Transmission cables from turbines run at least 4 feet under ground and cover 89 miles.
Capital investment is $300 million.
Construction jobs 250.
Full time jobs 12.
NextEra has used local vendors on this project as much as possible. Pratt area vendors include Adams Electric and Plumbing, Ninnescah Electric Cooperative, United Rentals and Concrete Enterprises. Other area vendors are Rosencrantz Well Service and Foley CAT Equipment in Great Bend, Hacker Brothers Construction in Kingman and Wichita Concrete Pipe in Wichita.
NextEra Energy resources is the worlds largest generator of renewable energy from wind and sun. They have 120 projects across 32 states and four Canadian provinces and have been working in Kansas since 2001 with $1.9 billion invested in the projects in the state.