News Column

TVA Touts Wind in Tennessee

October 29, 2013

Ed Marcum, The Knoxville News-Sentinel

tva wind farm
Buffalo Mountain wind farm (TVA)

Oct. 29--TVA, which recently launched an update of its long-range energy resource plan, has been showcasing its investment in renewable energy with tours of its Buffalo Mountain Wind Farm.

The tours -- taking place Monday and today -- give local officials, TVA distributors and others a chance to see one of TVA's least visited energy resources -- the 18 wind turbines atop Buffalo Mountain near Oliver Springs, said TVA spokesman Mike Bradley.

The wind farm is part of what the Tennessee Valley Authority considers its carbon-free energy package, said Patty West, TVA director of Renewable Energy. Besides wind, this includes sources such as solar, hydroelectric, nuclear and energy efficiency.

These sources represent about half of TVA's power generating capacity, Bradley said.

"Probably in 2015, with Watts Bar II (nuclear power plant) coming online, hopefully that needle will pass over 50 percent so that the majority of TVA's generation will be carbon-free. That's a pretty big deal for us," Bradley said.

According to Ed Stephens, TVA program manager for Renewable Energy, wind power makes up the bulk of the renewable energy capacity for TVA. As of October, TVA has signed nine contracts with nine wind farms to buy 1,542 megawatts of electricity. Also, TVA has contracted with Invenergy to provide 27 megawatts from its 15 wind turbines on Buffalo Mountain.

The project generated about 48,000 megawatt-hours of electricity in 2012, enough to power 3,400 homes, Stephens said.

The Buffalo Mountain project began with three TVA wind turbines in 2000, West said. These are no longer in operation and TVA is considering what to do with them, she said. The turbines, each one 213 feet tall with blades 75 feet long, made up what Stephens called TVA's "wind garden" because it was too small for a wind farm.

TVA contracted with Invenergy and in 2004 that company began adding to the Buffalo Mountain site, installing 15 more turbines -- each one 256 feet high with 139-foot-long blades. Sitting atop Buffalo Mountain at more than 3,000 feet elevation, they are about as tall as a 21-story building, Stephens said. The only sound they make is the soft swishing of their blades.

Buffalo Mountain was the first commercial-scale wind power project in the Southeast, West said. It is interesting that this large-scale renewable project was developed in what is a reclaimed strip-mine site, said Donna Suter, business development representative with TVA's Green Power Switch program, which allows TVA customers to buy energy produced through renewable sources.


(c)2013 the Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tenn.)

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Original headline: VA touts wind power at Buffalo Mountain site

Image: TVA.

Source: (c)2013 the Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tenn.)

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