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Wind Turbine

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Wind Turbine Photo Gallery

Wind Turbine Creating Energy Self-Sufficiency
for Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

With a goal of long term self-sufficiency, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community has invested in several energy projects in recent years. By producing energy rather than purchasing it from an outside source, the tribe is taking care of its own needs. The wind turbine is one of several components devised to meet this goal.

After more than 10 years of planning, a new 1.5 megawatt wind turbine at the SMSC Wacipi (Pow Wow) Grounds became operational in October 2009. The energy is currently sold on the grid but in the future it may be used to directly power the reservation.

Wind energy is a low-cost emerging renewable energy resource which does not contribute to global warming. The only pollution that is produced by a wind turbine comes during the manufacturing and transport process. Once erected, the wind turbine has no negative impacts and the sound is negligible to nearby homes and enterprises.

Minnesota is one of the largest producers of wind energy in the nation, generating 12.7% of the electricity generated in the state. The state of Minnesota has set renewable energy standard that requires 25 percent of the state’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2025. The SMSC wind turbine is an example of the effort to meet that goal.

Wind data collected by the SMSC over nearly a 10-year period demonstrate that this area of Minnesota has what is considered moderate to low winds for commercial wind development. The data shows a range from 0 to over 25 miles per hour wind with an average speed of 11 mph at an elevation of 164 feet. The turbine blades turn from winds as light as six and a half mph and continue through about 40 mph when it will shut itself off. About twice a year maintenance is required.

At 386 feet from foundation to the tip of a blade fully extended vertically, the wind turbine is the equivalent of a 38-story building. It operates around the clock throughout the year, anytime the wind is blowing. This single turbine is capable of supplying enough energy for all of the Community residential energy demand. It produces about .5 megawatt per year since wind does not blow all the time in this area.

Wind Turbine Background

Ground site preparation for installation of the turbine was completed in August 2009, when the foundation ring was installed and buried underground. It was later covered with sod. Burial of the foundation 12 feet deep was necessary to provide adequate support. Federal aviation requirements due to the nearby Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, mandated the maximum height at the tip of the blade at 1,340 feet above sea level. The location in a small valley at the Wacipi Grounds helped meet this requirement.

Components of the turbine are the foundation or base, the steel tower, three blades, a hub, a nacelle, and internal systems to transfer the power to the base. Due to their sheer size, transport was somewhat complicated. Once all the parts arrived, it only took two days to assemble using a 600 ton capacity crane with 335 feet of boom. Rainy and muddy conditions did not deter the crew, though it created quite a mess around the site.

Energy created by the turbine is metered as it enters the nearby Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative substation that provides electricity to the SMSC and the surrounding area. The energy is sold to Basin Energy, the supply cooperative for the Minnesota Valley Electrical Cooperative. Basin Energy pays the Community for the power on a monthly basis.

The $1.8 million wind turbine, which has a payback period of about 15 years, has a life expectancy of 30 years. The SMSC wind turbine will also demonstrate that wind energy is viable in areas of moderate to low winds.

By the Numbers:
  • The center hub stands 262.4 feet tall and is visible for miles around.
  • The hub is 13.45 feet by 13.45 feet by 11.48 feet and weighs 17.19 tons.
  • The turbine nacelle (engine housing) weighs 57.3 tons without the blades.
  • The three blades are 123 feet each in length by 7.35 feet by 9.84 feet and weigh 6.6 tons each.
  • The diameter of the circle created by the blades is about 77 meters, or 247 feet.
  • The 252.3 feet tall meter steel tower is tubular shaped and weighs 135.9 tons.
  • The foundation ring is 14.76 feet by 9.84 feet, with a weight of 14.3 tons.
  • The nacelle is 31.18 feet by 12.46 feet by 13.12 feet and weighs 57.32 tons.
  • The wind turbine was made by Changzhou Railcar Propulsion Engineering Research and Development Center in China and shipped over a seven week voyage first to Shanghai and then to Houston, Texas, where it was loaded onto trucks for its overland journey. This was the most economical and fastest way to obtain a wind turbine.
  • Diversified Energy Solutions of Gary, South Dakota, installed the wind turbine.
Other Energy Related Projects

The wind turbine is one of several Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community energy initiatives already underway.

  • Learn more about the SMSC's charitable giving program here.
  • Koda Energy, a joint venture with Rahr Malting of Shakopee, is burning agricultural by products to produce heat and electricity. 
  • An innovative project converts the Community’s waste motor oil and vegetable oil to heat buildings. Some Community spaces have been partially heated by waste oil since the winter of 2008-2009. Using waste oil for heat reduces the use of natural gas.
  • 18,000 gallons of waste vegetable oil each year is converted to bio-diesel for use in Community vehicles and equipment.
  • Solar energy is used to heat water for showers and equipment washing at the Mdewakanton Emergency Services, The Community has 204 solar panels operational on the reservation.
  • Skylights in several buildings use the free energy of the sun to light a training room and equipment bay, reducing daytime energy usage.
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