THE ECONOMIC FEASIBILITY OF POWER PRODUCTION FROM UTILITY SCALE WIND FARMS AT OBERLIN COLLEGE
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The State of Ohio receives 90% of its electricity from coal power plants. The City of Oberlin’s power provider, Oberlin Municipal Light and Power Systems (OMLPS), is facing a 70% net annual shortfall in electric supply starting in January of 2013. Oberlin College is OMLPS’s biggest customer and has also committed to becoming climate neutral. This study assesses the economic viability of meeting Oberlin College and OMLPS’s future electric demand via a local utility-scaled wind farm. This study uses a years worth of wind data collected on a 160-foot monitoring tower along with two sets of wind data that are extrapolated to turbine hub height in order to predict the annual electric output from a number of different wind turbines. Several different installation cost scenarios are used to predict the price of electricity from these turbines at varying hub heights. The results section of this analysis outlines the required price per kWh for each turbine model that would need to be charged in order meet annual payments on a 15-year 5% interest loan equal to the installation cost of a specific wind turbine. The paper specifically analyses a 4.5 MW wind farm comprised of three GE 1.5 XLE wind turbines at an installation cost of $2.15 million per MW. The analysis uses three sets of wind speeds in order to predict annual electric production: 50m observed data, a conservative extrapolation, and a more optimistic extrapolation. For the GE 4.5 MW wind farm, prior to the Federal Production Tax Credit of $0.021 per kWh, prices range from $0.10 to $0.15 per kWh. Considering that Oberlin College currently pays $0.09 per kWh, it is possible that a wind farm could save the college money on electric bills while reducing the carbon intensity of its electricity at a profit.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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