Wind Turbines Weather Harvey, while Irma will Shut Nuclear Plants

September 7, 2017


Most vulnerable point for any kind of reliable energy going forward is the antiquated US power grid.

A resilient power grid will increasingly rely on distributed power generation, less likely to be knocked out by an extreme weather event, terrorism, or the odd mechanical glitch.

Raw Story:

Energy firm Florida Power & Light (FPL) said on Wednesday it could shut its four nuclear reactors in the path of Hurricane Irma before Saturday if the storm stayed on its current path.

“Based on the current track, we would expect severe weather in Florida starting Saturday, meaning we would potentially shut down before that point,” spokesman Peter Robbins said in an email.

The company, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Inc, is watching the weather and would adjust any plans as necessary, Robbins said.

The trajectory of Irma, a Category 5 storm with winds of 185 miles per hour (295 km per hour), is uncertain. Irma, which the U.S. National Hurricane Center said was the strongest Atlantic storm on record, was expected to pass near or just north of Puerto Rico on Wednesday before scraping the Dominican Republic on Thursday.

FPL operates the St. Lucie nuclear power plant on Hutchinson Island, a barrier island on the Atlantic about 55 miles (88 km) north of West Palm Beach. Two reactors generate 2,000 megawatts of electricity, enough power to supply more than 1 million homes.

It also operates Turkey Point nuclear power station on Biscayne Bay, about 24 miles south of Miami. That has two reactors that generate about 1,600 megawatts of electricity, or enough for about 900,000 homes.

Robbins said the plants were designed to withstand extreme natural events including hurricanes and serious floods.


Wind farms are generally engineered to withstand up to Category 3 hurricane-strength winds. Even though Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas coast as a Category 4, no wind turbines were destroyed by the storm’s winds. Why not? In coastal Texas, there are just over 2,000 megawatts of wind power capacity already installed. However, three projects representing 389 megawatts faced the worst of Hurricane Harvey – Harbor Wind (9 MW) on the north side of Corpus Christi, and the Papalote Creek I/II sites (380 MW, total) in San Patricio county. Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas as a Category 4 storm, with winds exceeding 130 miles per hour. It took six hours for Harvey to move 30 miles across Corpus Christi and Arkansas Pass, pummeling the area with Category 3 and Category 4 winds.

At noontime on Friday, August 25th, the Texas coastal wind projects were operating at 95 percent output, an exceptionally high output level (also called a capacity factor). As expected, several wind farms curtailed power production when wind speeds exceeded safety limits. Also, as local grid connections failed and power outages affected the entire region, wind farms remained offline until grid connection could be re-established. (In cases such as Papalote Creek, the utility transmission and distributed system was heavily damaged by the storm and estimated to not go back online for several days). Between 3-4PM, as conditions deteriorated, wind power production dropped by approximately 800 megawatts, with a regional operation rate of about 47 percent.

Over the next three days, wind power production generally increased during the daytime, and declined at nighttime – similar to “normal” coastal wind power production levels. At no time did power production from all coastal wind farms reach zero. In other words, as Hurricane Harvey was battering the coast, coastal wind power projects mostly remained online and operating, as if nothing out ofthe ordinary was occurring.

Simply put, many wind farms in coastal Texas weren’t affected by Harvey’s highest-level winds. And the turbines that did experience those extreme conditions, performed as expected and shut down for self-preservation, or when the local grid system failed. As mentioned in a previous post, all energy resources are at risk of destruction from extreme weather events. Many of the Gulf’s offshore oil platforms were evacuated ahead of the storm. Fortunately, Texas’ coastal wind farms appear to have dodged a bullet.



2 Responses to “Wind Turbines Weather Harvey, while Irma will Shut Nuclear Plants”

  1. paulbeard Says:

    I’ll let someone else take out the trash on this one.

  2. Scenery sure isn’t weathering those gigantic, spinning, blinking eyesores very well. Nothing else looms so large on horizons, outside of urban skylines. Rural is fast becoming urban, but don’t worry, it’s “green” if you just repeat vapid phrases like “I happen think they’re beautiful!” with a mindless grin, followed by a segue into old damage like coal mines, which wind projects can’t possibly be adding to.

    Anyone who protests such “beauty” must be a fan of Trump or Limbaugh, for IT IS WRITTEN that carbon is the only environmental problem worth serious consideration. (bumper sticker for actual environmentalists)

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