PrairieWinds subsidiaries thrive on safety, capacity

PrairieWinds Group

(From left): Travis Schall, Patrick Hurt, Christopher Sutton and Bradley Schneider stand in front of Basin Electric’s PrairieWinds 1 project near Minot, ND.

Dreams. You pursue them every day.

You’re the farmer who sows the land for a bountiful harvest; the parent who works to give your children a happy life; the business owner putting everything on the line to fulfill a lifelong goal.

That’s why Basin Electric staff took on the challenge when members dreamed of adding wind power to the cooperative’s generation mix.

To this day, subsidiaries PrairieWinds ND 1 and PrairieWinds SD 1 continue to not only power communities, but exceed expectations in safety and capacity.

Prime examples of co-op’s safety ideals

The PrairieWinds employees have become shining examples of workplace safety, reaching incredible milestones.

A recent example was when the employees at PrairieWinds 1, south of Minot, ND, celebrated five years of operation without an injury. For Kevin Tschosik, Basin Electric manager of distributed generation, it’s an accomplishment worth celebrating.

“Five years with no injuries is huge,” Tschosik says. “You need the proper tools, safety procedures and consistency on a daily basis to have this sort of record.”

Tschosik says building trust and accountability is key when employees take part in regular training. For example, with PrairieWinds, that means embracing the buddy system when climbing and working on wind towers.

Rest assured: before employees climb, they’ve put in the time.

“Our wind technicians do not climb a tower until we’ve trained them in our tower rescue training program,” Tschosik says. “You’re working 260 feet in the air, so we train people to either rescue themselves or their buddy in case of an incident.”

Wind capacity has grown at PrairieWinds

Not only have Basin Electric’s PrairieWinds subsidiaries surpassed expectations in safety, but also in capacity.

The original business plans for the North Dakota and South Dakota wind projects called for a 39-percent capacity factor, which refers to the total generation you can expect out of a wind project on a yearly basis.

In 2014, PrairieWinds 1 was at 46 percent and Crow Lake Wind Project reached a 48 percent capacity factor.

“Our capacity factors have been really good,” Tschosik says. “Of course, you can’t control the fuel source, which is the wind, but we can control availability, which is above 97 percent at both wind farms.”

Did you know?
One reason the Crow Lake Wind turbines produce so much electricity is the wind boost software added to the Crow Lake Wind turbines. The software helps turbine blades pitch more into the wind, which causes the gearbox and generator to run faster, resulting in an increase of up to 4 percent annual energy output.

Read the full story, PrairieWinds subsidiaries thrive on safety, capacity, in the March-April 2015 issue of Basin Today.

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