Utility FAQs

 

Q: How do smaller rural electric cooperative systems handle the intermittent generation from a utility-scale wind project?

A: Compass sizes its projects based on cooperative system constraints. Using a distributed generation model, our projects are smaller at any given point on the cooperative utility’s system. Managing multiple, smaller, geographically diverse wind projects is actually easier than managing one large resource, while imbalances are absorbed through interconnection to the wider grid.

 

Q: Don’t wind projects interconnected to smaller electric cooperative systems have the potential to destabilize the system?

A: Generally, modern utility-scale wind turbines are equipped with VAR-support and are therefore able to support reactive power flow, which can help stabilize the system. In cases where turbines are not equipped with VAR support, Compass will ensure compliance with reactive power flow requirements through additional power electronics, capacitor banks and any other recommended or required measures. In general, local supply should assist in the stability of the system rather than draw power from distant power generation over many miles of overhead transmission lines.

 

Q: How does Compass address the design and engineering challenges of interconnecting wind projects?

A: Compass designs wind project systems first and foremost to ensure system reliability, safety, and stability and has engaged with expert electrical engineering consultants specialized in utility-wind integration and with experience in both engineering-design and construction of wind interconnection systems.

 

Q: What impacts do wind projects have on birds and bats?

A: The wind industry is closely collaborating with the conservation community to better understand the causes of adverse impacts to birds and bats and to develop techniques to reduce them. While bird and bat fatalities are an occasional and unfortunate side-effect of wind development, the impact of wind turbines on these animals is extremely limited, especially compared to other human impacts. In fact, the overall contribution of wind turbines to bird mortalities is less than one in 10,000 compared to mortalities from buildings/windows, vehicles, communication towers, power lines, pesticides, and house cats. Regarding impacts to bats, concerns have been mainly centered on a few wind projects where higher bat mortalities were experienced. Despite the minimal impact on bird and bat populations in most areas, we take these potential impacts seriously. In accordance with best industry practice, when developing wind projects, Compass routinely conducts avian and bat studies as part of pre-construction due diligence, consults with the conservation community, and follows the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines in order to avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts to birds, bats, and other wildlife.

 

Q: Do wind projects significantly impact the environment?

A: Like conventional generation technologies, wind projects have some adverse environmental impacts, but these impacts are by comparison local and minimal. The emissions generated by burning fossil fuels for example have far greater regional and even global impacts on wildlife habitat, the environment, and human health. The most common impacts of wind projects include potential impacts related to wildlife, wetlands, and communications signals, as well as sound and shadow flicker. Compass carefully evaluates these potential adverse impacts and works to avoid, minimize, and/or mitigate them.  When properly sited, wind projects can actually provide a net environmental benefit to the local communities in which they operate and to the world in which we live.

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