Acciona: Cuts will not hurt wind farm
by Gregory R. Norfleet · News · March 29, 2013

The news of Acciona Windpower cutting 40 assembly plant jobs and halting its production line here comes less than three months after turning on its 6-megawatt wind farm in Mechanicsville.

Acciona predicts the new wind farm will produce enough electricity to power 1,500 homes and keep more than 12,000 tons of pollution out of the air each year.

Acciona hooked up the two 3-megawatt wind turbines at the Pioneer Grove Wind Farm in Mechanicsville just before Christmas. They are connected to the Central Iowa Power Cooperative.

The company has plans to dedicate the site in the spring, inviting local and regional partners and stakeholders, as well as the media.

Acciona Windpower CEO Joe Baker said the demonstration site would not be affected by the job cuts.

Peter Gray, spokesman for Acciona Energy North America, stated the company needed to make some mechanical adjustments shortly after connecting to CIPCO.

“Now the turbines are performing well and meeting our expectations,” he wrote in an e-mail statement. “We are collecting operations data over the long-term to determine the specifics about energy production at the site.”

The 6-MW wind farm was built as a demonstration site since Acciona had only produced and sold 1.5-MW turbines in North America before now. It has produced 3-MW turbines since 2011 in Europe but is now offering the models here.

“We have had potential customers come to visit the site,” Gray said. “And we’re planning more visits later in the year.”

The test site turbines include 116-meter rotors. One turbine sits atop a 92-meter steel tower, the other is built on 100-meter concrete tower.

The company said concrete towers are an innovative option that allows building on-site.

Acciona last month also began offering a 125-meter rotor. With a greater “swept area” — 12,300 square meters — the new rotor is designed to capture more wind in low-wind sites.

The new rotors are built for the 3MW turbines which can accommodate them with 120-meter towers.

“With the introduction of the AW 125/3000, Acciona Windpower now has rotor options that enable almost any site globally to deliver maximum production at a lower cost of energy,” Patxi Landa Exparza, director of Global Business Development, said in a statement.

Acciona spokesman Eric Schneider said Pioneer Grove will keep the 116-meter rotors, but while the 125-meter rotors would need taller towers, they would not require changing the design of the turbines, which are built at the West Branch plant.

The company expects to see the first 125-meter rotors installed by the end of the year.

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