December A Record Month For Carleton Wind Turbine

6 January 2009

Minnesota’s weather often seems to me the creation of a disgruntled, vindictive child.  Take, for example, the average wind speeds in the months of December and January.  At the time when temperatures begin to really dip, southern Minnesota often experiences some of its highest average wind speeds of the year, so that an otherwise reasonable 5 or 10 degrees F can go to 10 or 15 below in a heartbeat.  But while it’s bad news for my face, all that wind is great news for wind turbines.

Carleton’s wind turbine has historically experienced highly productive Decembers (disregarding 2007, when a broken gear box temporarily interrupted service).  December 2008 turned out to be a record month as the turbine generated 570,544 KWh of electricity,  surpassing it’s previous high mark of 540,639 KWh set in March 2007.  The turbine passed the milestone midway through 12/29/08.

The turbine often sees a small decline in produced KWh from December to January, but in January 2007 it produced 529,197 KWh.  So we can keep our fingers crossed for two record months in a row.  As for the cost of all that electricity?  In March 2007 the average cost of a kilowatt hour in Minnesota was 7.13 cents (The Public Policy Institute of New York State).  By this standard the 570,544 KWh generated in December translates to $40,680.

Carleton’s turbine often experiences it’s highest sustained production in the months of March, April, and May, and then slumps from June through August.  Historical monthly and daily totals, including graphs, for Carleton wind turbine data can be viewed on Carleton’s Sustainability Website here