As wind farms age, companies are working to re-power them – by replacing older turbines with newer, more powerful turbines.
"In some of the older wind facilities, the turbine technology wasn't as good," said North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Brian Kroshus. "In the newer turbines, technology has improved, and they last longer."
"We've already had NextEra talk to our staff pretty extensively about looking at repowering some of their facilities," said Commissioner Julie Fedorchak.
But Fedorchak said it isn’t necessarily a case of replacing older turbines that are in danger of wearing out. She said Otter Tail Power Company recently did a survey of its existing wind facilities.
"They're (turbines) lasting longer and costing less to maintain than they anticipated," Fedorchak said.
Fedorchak said the companies are looking at new turbines being more efficient.
"They allow the companies to capture more wind power, more of the time," Fedorchak said.
Fedorchak also said some companies may be eligible for the federal Production Tax Credit by repowering their existing wind facilities.
Fedorchak said the companies that have suggested repowering wind farms have also said they would like to install new lighting technology. Instead of having the standard warning lights on the towers that stay on all night, the newer systems turn on and off as airplanes approach.