Energy company shifts focus to wind power
Consulting Engineers Group has delved into designing and building wind farms. The move has proven to be not only ecologically friendly, but also economically savvy.
Farmington, Minn.-based Consulting Engineers Group (CEG)—a subsidiary of Dakota Electric Assn .—provides electrical utilities with design/build services on high-tech transmission and distribution systems. Five years ago, CEG began working in earnest on growing its involvement in the burgeoning wind power market.
According to vice president and senior project engineer Vince Granquist, the move has paid off in no small way.
“It is far and away our biggest area of growth,” said Granquist. “At this point, it is probably over 75% of the company’s focus.”
The new concentration started when Granquist noticed Carleton College, a nearby liberal arts school, had begun plans on a wind turbine. Curious, he started picking the brains of all the people involved in the project; his interest grew, and he moved onto contacting people on other small wind-related projects in his part of the state. Based on the stories Granquist heard and experiences he witnessed, the company decided to jump into wind farms itself.
A key aspect of a wind farm centers on the designing and installation of collection systems, including cable. CEG uses hundreds of thousands of feet of 35 kV underground cable (preferring Hendrix Wire and Cable’s TRXLP) cable to connect turbines to each other and back to the substation. Granquist estimates a typical 100 MW wind farm uses approximately $1 million worth of underground cable, about an eighth of the total electrical-work bill.