Letter - Writer needs to get facts straight on wind turbines


I just finished reading Jim Thorn’s letter “Windmills turning aren’t necessarily generating” and I am appalled at the inaccurate information he uses.

Let’s get one thing straight: Wind turbines are not windmills. They are power-generating machines and are not used to mill grain or pump water.

Jim is correct when he states that just because a wind turbine is turning does not mean it is producing. Wind turbines are PLC-controlled and they will produce power only when the wind speeds are within the power curve for that turbine technology.

Wind turbines will go into startup mode (rotating but not producing power) so they are ready to put power on the grid as soon as the wind speeds are sufficient.

Commercial wind turbines do not have only two speeds: Stopped or full-bore. This would be correct for older kilowatt wind turbines but is not true for modern megawatt turbines.

The rotor on modern turbines will turn slower at lower power outputs and faster at higher power outputs. They have a frequency converter that brings the power to 60 Hz before connecting the power to the grid.

To make the statement that turbines will remove power from the grid and have their generators turn into motors during low wind periods is just not true and is actually absurd. A wind farm’s power substation would have to be reconfigured and each turbine’s PLC reprogrammed for this to even be possible.

A turbine only needs to rotate slowly to prevent damage to bearings, and the fiberglass blades will not warp if a turbine sits idle for even long periods.

There would be no reason to have a wind turbine “motor” and I am not aware of any modern utility-scale wind turbine that even has this capability.

Wind turbine operators do not want turbines to be rotating “full-bore” when they can’t produce power because of the extra wear and tear on the components. I frequently see turbines not turning during low-wind periods.

Are wind turbines the ideal way to generate power? No, they are not, but no form of power generation is without problems. Wind turbines are a way to supplement power to the grid using a naturally occurring resource.

I don’t understand is why the anti-wind groups have to use such blatantly incorrect and unsubstantiated information when talking about wind turbines.

Get the facts straight and then we can have a meaningful debate.

Scott Graves

Walla Walla