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Performance of TVA's Buffalo Mountain Wind Power Plant

The table below summarizes the plant's electricity production to date, based on the announcements by TVA. TVA has been reluctant to provide detailed information about the performance of their wind power plant, but some information is slowly accumulating. Based on the mediocre results so far announced, it is no surprise that TVA is reluctant to provide details. The plant was officially dedicated on November 13, 2000, but they "have actually been providing power since Oct. 12." Therefore, we now have, or rather TVA has, over a year of data. They are slow to release the information, but they do eventually provide periodic updates. The results shown below are from TVA's announcements to date (11/25/01).

TVA previously announced a goal or estimate of producing 6 million kilowatt-hours per year from the wind power plant. Dividing this by 4, to match TVA's quarterly reporting of results, the plant needs to produce 1.5 million kilowatt-hours per quarter to make the goal. Such performance would also be equivalent to about 34% capacity factor, based on about 2 megawatts capacity. As seen below, so far no quarterly results have even approached 1.5 million kilowatt-hours; the best quarter reported so far was about 0.9 million. The overall capacity factor results so far are about 15 to 17%, or roughly half what would meet the goal.

Financial results are more difficult to estimate. Based on assuming 5 cents per kilowatt-hour, for 2.6 million kilowatt-hours the revenue to TVA would be about $130,000. Based on $3.4 million plant cost and assuming a 5% interest rate, interest cost alone for a year would be about $170,000. This indicates a significant deficit based only on interest costs. Clearly, the plant is probably running at an even larger deficit when other costs such as maintenance, security, and management, etc. are added.


Date
Actual
Total
Production
Million
Kilowatt
hours
Theoretical
Capacity
Million
Kilowatt
hours

Capacity
Factor
%
Days
Since
Start
October 12, 2000 - Start of Operations
0
0
n/a
0
December 31, 2000
??
1.6
??
80
March 31, 2001
1.2
8.1
15
170
June 30, 2001
2.1
12.4
17
261
September 30, 2001
2.6
16.8
15
353

As we wait for TVA's announcement page to be updated with fourth quarter 2001 results, we can ponder the weather data from the last few days of the year 2001.

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Disclaimer Fine Print: This site is personal, and is independent of TVA or any other organization. Use of the abbreviation "TVA" is purely for descriptive purposes (for example, to distinguish from wind power plants on Buffalo Ridge in Minnesota). No endorsement, no approval, and no involvement by TVA is implied.

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