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10/29/2013 10:32:00 AM
Two years later: Perrin Ranch Wind Farm lives up to APS' expectations
Officials with Arizona Public Service and NextEra say wind farm located 13 miles north of Williams off Highway 64 operates on average at 30 percent capacity
Connie Freson rides her horse underneath Perrin Ranch Wind Farm tubines. Officials with APS said the farm generally operates at about 30 percent capacity. Photo/Bob Freson
Connie Freson rides her horse underneath Perrin Ranch Wind Farm tubines. Officials with APS said the farm generally operates at about 30 percent capacity. Photo/Bob Freson
Wind turbines dot the landscape 13 miles north of Williams and west of Highway 64 on the Perrin Ranch Wind Farm. Ryan Williams/WGCN
Wind turbines dot the landscape 13 miles north of Williams and west of Highway 64 on the Perrin Ranch Wind Farm. Ryan Williams/WGCN
Living with turbines
The people who live near Perrin Ranch have had mixed opinions about the wind farm since its inception. Carolyn Smith can see 54 of the wind turbines from her house.

"I don't mind it during the day," she said. "But my husband and I sit out almost every night and look at the sky, and it really has ruined that. I see blinking red lights-the whole southern horizon is just ruined basically."

In general, Smith said she is in favor of wind energy. However, she said the location of the wind turbines is an issue.

"It seems like they could have situated them somewhere where it didn't have such a direct impact on people that already lived there and wasn't visible from the highway."

But now that the wind farm is there, Smith said she hopes it's successful.

"It is what it is," she said. "It's there now, there's nothing you can do about it."

Junipine Estates resident Lynn Brenner Summers also said her biggest complaint about the wind farm is the location.

"I am an advocate of alternative energy, I really am, and so I was quite torn about the whole wind farm thing because I like alternative energy, it's important," she said. "But not outside the Grand Canyon. If you stand on the North Rim after dark, all you see are those red flashing lights."

Those lights are also visible from Brenner Summers' living room.

"That's not what people move to this area for," she said. "A lot of us are very much advocates of dark skies, and that kind of jeopardizes that as well."

However, not everyone is unhappy about the wind farm.

Linda Speckels has been in favor of the wind farm since she first heard about it.

"I thought it was something that should be integrated into the area," she said. "I think there needs to be new ways of making progress with these things."

And as for the lights Speckels can see from her house at night, she said, "I don't mind it at all."

Marissa Freireich
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter

At maximum capacity, Perrin Ranch Wind Farm can power about 25,000 Arizona homes, according to Arizona Public Service (APS), the company that buys the power. On average, the wind farm operates at 30 percent capacity-enough to power about 8,000 homes.

Perrin Ranch is located about 13 miles north of Williams off of Highway 64. The wind farm went into commercial operation on June 25, 2012, meaning it had completed its testing and was performing satisfactorily at that point.

NextEra runs the wind farm and APS buys all of the energy it produces under the terms of a 30-year contract.

So far, Perrin Ranch is meeting the expectations of APS and NextEra.

Perrin Ranch has 62 wind turbines that are 298 feet tall from base to blade tip and are spread over 20,000 acres.

The wind turbines generate electricity when winds reach about 8 mph. They reach full output when wind speeds are at about 25 mph. Winds are strong enough to generate at least some power at the wind farm 85 percent of the time, according to NextEra spokesman Steven Stengel.

The energy produced at Perrin Ranch does not only stay in the Williams area, said APS spokesman Steven Gotfried.

"That energy goes on the grid and so all customers take advantage of that energy," Gotfried said. "It's kind of like a big bucket and all of the energy goes into the big bucket."

Gotfried added that customers must use electricity at the same time that it is being made.

"It's not like a can of soda where you can make it and put it on the shelf and then when a customer needs it the customer can buy it," he said. "We have to make it when people need it."

APS buys energy from two other wind farms in New Mexico, but Perrin Ranch is the only one the company contracts with in Arizona.

APS gets about 3 percent of its total energy from wind farms, and Perrin Ranch makes up about 1 percent of the company's power portfolio.

By comparison, APS will get about 3.5 to 4 percent of its total energy from solar sources by the end of the year. That comes out to about 750 megawatts, which is enough to power more than 185,000 homes, according to an email from APS.

Wind power vs. solar power

Wind farms by nature have a degree of intermittency associated with their energy production, according to Brad Albert, general manager for resource management at APS.

"There's going to be some hours where it's producing zero, there's going to be some where it's producing 99 (megawatts), there's going to be a whole lot of other hours in the middle," Albert said. "It's just one of the characteristics that (wind farms) have a lot of ups and downs in the production, just based upon the gustiness of the wind and those type of factors."

For that reason, APS uses a company called 3TIER to help forecast weather patterns and energy production at the wind farm.

Depending on the wind conditions, APS has other power generating resources prepared to increase or decrease their production.

The combination of different energy sources balances the output of each type, Gotfried said.

"Solar only powers during the day," Gotfried said. "Wind energy is obviously day and night, it doesn't really matter. However, we have to wait for the wind to blow. We can't control that."

Albert agreed, saying that variety is key.

"On days when the wind may not be blowing well, we might be getting good solar production or vice versa," he said. "So it helps us to stabilize against the ups and downs of some of the different types of renewable sources by being diversified across the different sources."

By 2015, APS hopes that 12 percent of its total energy production will come from renewable sources. Right now that percentage is at about 5 to 6 percent.

APS has no plans to contract with any more wind farms at the moment, nor is it against the possibility, Albert said.

"We try to stay agnostic from the perspective of looking at all of the renewables and trying to determine what brings the best value for our customers, period," Albert said.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Article comment by: this has to stop

Stop giving this money away!!! Write your Congressmen!!!

I love how they put in a bunch of roads of Perrin's ranch to put in all the wind mills, they didn't have any impact on the land and the wild life right??? But good old Mike doesn't want anyone driving around on roads that have been there for 100 years or the new ones he let them put in for the wind mills. Makes total sense.

Any ranch that puts in the wind mills at the expense of the taxpayers should have to pay more for their state grazing leases!!!!

Posted: Saturday, April 19, 2014
Article comment by: Linda Webb

Funny how when we were fighting this battle APS and NextEra would only keep repeating the 99 mgw mantra and when directly asked how much it would produce they never gave a direct answer. As a citizen's group we were not experts- so no one believed us when we said 25= 30% max. based on the math in all the industry publications. Well, time has proved that we might not be experts but we can read and do math. to think that NextEra got 51+million in 1603 Federal money for a project that only produces 30% of it capacity! This was paid out in 2012 when it went on-line- what a waste.
We may have moved but the battle continues - trying to prevent a debacle at Aubrey Cliffs/Boquillas Ranch. They want 450 ft turbines right atop the cliffs- prime raptor territory and a total of 300+ turbines- and we can look forward to another 30% project sending power to CA.

Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Creager

30%? Really, how productive!! And now my property value is in the crapper!! Thanks for nothing!!

Posted: Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Article comment by: what a joke Gordie!!!

Perrin wind farm is thriving???? At 30%??? That has to be a joke right? Thats par for the course though, what project subsidized by the feds operates above 30%?

Posted: Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Article comment by: Sharon Atwater

Big Government at it finest. As long as people take the freebies and vote for the government that gives the freebies, they will be beholden to them forever. I prefer to not have a government telling me how to eat, spend my money, what insurance I need or if I can have a gun or not. I also want our government to enforce and support the ICE Agency. If, as a taxpayer, I have to pay for illegals, health, education, hospital bills, or legal bills. I say, no sir re bob. If I have to pay taxes and college tuition, why should I pay for illegals? Am I digressing?

Posted: Thursday, October 31, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Creager

take the .... thing down and restore our beauty!!! Such a waste!!

Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Article comment by: Gordie Whitaker

Well, well, well -- The sky didn't fall after all. Not only that, but Perrin Ranch Windfarm is thriving. What a surprise....

Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Article comment by: Ron Pauly

I remember APS raising our rates at the same time the wind farm started up. Am I remembering this right? Other city's/county's usually cut a deal to get power cheaper. I wonder how many Birds have died so far.

Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Article comment by: Fred Swartz

Don't know why the 30% should be surprising, after all it is a govt funded project...given how the rest of the federal govt works 30% is actually a real accomplishment.

Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Creager

It looks terrible!!! It is such an intrusion to my space! The power that is gained from this project does not help the locals one bit!! 30%? Are you serious? It is such a waste of land. The red lights are so annoying, it is like something out of a cartoon movie! Just awful!!

Posted: Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Article comment by: say what

Seriously??? 30% of capacity is ok and what was expected???? What a boodoggle. The fed government must have subsidized this.

Posted: Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Article comment by: Bruce Bloomquist

Of course the Perrin Ranch wind turbine industrial park "lives up to APS' expectations". What did you expect them to say, "Wow! Those skeptics sure were right. We only got 30% efficiency out of these big, ugly contraptions and the wind there really is mediocre." They never even said what their "expectations" were. That they would work at all?

It's still a taxpayer-funded boondoggle. The obnoxious red lights still flash every night. People still don't want to live anywhere near them. The locals still receive no benefit from having the turbines in their backyards.

Epic fail. A true face to palm moment, guys and gals.

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