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Performance of TVA's Buffalo Mountain Wind Power Plant

March 23, 2002

The table below summarizes the plant's electricity production to date, based on 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, it is no surprise that TVA is reluctant to provide details.

TVA should provide detailed data similar to what the Wisconsin Wind Project provides for a couple similar size turbines, or what TVA provides for their own solar stations (scroll down to see plots at both sites). The Wisconsin Wind Project also provides data on electric power consumed by the equipment. While the 6-10 kw consumption is small relative to rated power (~600 kw), it does remind us that the wind power plant relies on conventional power sources providing "extra" power when the wind is not blowing hard. This also reminds us that TVA's updates are not precise about their reported "generation." Is it gross or net?

The plant was officially dedicated on November 13, 2000, but they "have actually been providing power since Oct. 12." So we now, finally, have over a year of data. TVA is slow to release the information, but they do eventually provide periodic news and updates (follow the news and updates links from TVA's page). The results shown below are from TVA's announcements to date (03/23/2002).

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.

In the most recent quarter, TVA finally came near 1.5 million kilowatt-hours, with a new record quarter. They produced about 1.33 million kilowatt-hours, for a quarterly average capacity factor of about 30%! This raises the overall capacity factor results so far to about 18%, or slightly over half what would meet the goal for total production to date.

Financial results are more difficult to estimate. Based on assuming 5 cents per kilowatt-hour, for 3.9 million kilowatt-hours the revenue to TVA would be about $195,000. Based on $3.4 million plant cost and assuming a 5% per year interest rate, interest cost alone for a year would be about $170,000. For 445 days, interest would be about $207,000. 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
December 31, 2001
3.9
21.1
18
445


Previous Bottom Line Reports:
January 2002
November 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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