Eight old wind farms in Texas are about to get a second life

PivotGen repowers aging wind farms, and together with its partner ACEN, it’s acquiring eight wind farms in Texas to give them a new lease on life.

Chicago-based PivotGen, which has to date repowered 2,176 MW of wind, and renewable energy platform ACEN have formed a partnership called UPC Power Solutions.

The new partnership has signed an agreement to buy the Texas wind farms from energy storage developer Glidepath, and it will repair, upgrade, and repower them.

Electrek spoke with Tim Rosenzweig, CEO and cofounder of PivotGen, about how old wind farms are repowered, and what UPC Power Solution’s plans are going forward.

Electrek: Tell us about the Texas wind farms that you’re buying.

Tim Rosenzweig: They’re eight projects in the Texas Panhandle. Glidepath, who is selling the wind farms to us, has pivoted their focus toward energy storage.

The wind farms range in size from 10 to 68 MW. They’re clustered within a drive of each other. They’re selling into the network there, and the turbines are made by Suzlon. The first wind farms went online between 2006 to 2009.

Our repowering plan is to get them fully functional and optimized within six to 12 months.

Electrek: How does a wind farm refurbishment work, exactly?

Tim Rosenzweig: Think of it like fixing a car: You have different components, and there’s a supply chain. OEMs get their stuff from other people. We’re doing that: going to suppliers and getting those parts. There’s a robust international supply chain for wind turbines.

There’s a whole spectrum of stuff you can do. Our plan is to go in, project by project, and plan what makes the most sense. Some require lots of new components, and others require less refurbishment. Some were built at the same time the iPhone came out, and think about how much the iPhone has improved. We increase their megawatt hours through better efficiency.

A lot of the wind power industry is focused on growth, and that’s great, but after 20 years, we don’t want the older ones to just fall off the radar. We want to support these local communities with service jobs instead of tearing them down. And we’ve picked up some great technical guys from GE to figure out the optimal plan on a turbine-by-turbine basis.

Employment-wise, we like to retain the people currently working on the wind farms, and we’ll bring in expertise where needed. We’re also looking to put in innovative technologies to help wind power be better.

Electrek: Once you acquire the wind farms, do you keep them or sell them to someone else?

Tim Rosenzweig: We’re going to look to own and operate. The benefit of the [Biden administration’s] recent Inflation Reduction Act is that it extended the window for wind and solar to get built. It also has a production tax credit transferability mechanism that will enable new capital structures, so it opens the door for this type of project.

Read more: A Danish wind turbine giant just discovered how to recycle all blades

Photo: wind-turbine-models.com

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at michelle@9to5mac.com. Check out her personal blog.