California?s Alta Wind Energy Center beats deadlines, exceeds expectations

Construction Manager Pepé Ramirez has worked on 31 wind farm construction projects in his 16 years at Vestas. None have been as large as the Alta Wind Energy Center — Phases II-V — in California’s Mojave Desert, comprised of 190 V90-3.0 MW wind turbines. (Phase I used GE wind turbines.)

“Our Transport and Service departments have been very important to the wind power project’s success so far,” said Ramirez, who is a key player in the project — the biggest wind turbine order Vestas has received for a specific site. “Construction and Service have been working well as a team. And we’ve been able to do this safely with no injuries.”

Vestas met aggressive delivery and construction deadlines set by the customer, Terra-Gen, ahead of schedule. One key milestone was the first phase of 50 wind turbines (Alta Phase II) had to be commissioned by Dec. 21, 2010.

“There was a lot of go-go-go,” Ramirez said. “We knew we had a deadline, but that wasn’t my priority. My priorities were safety and quality. We don’t want to sacrifice that.” The team achieved final completion Dec. 18, only two months after installation began

“Pepé has done a great job of keeping people motivated and engaged on the site,” said Don Webber, Yield Based Service Program Manager. “In addition, a lot of great people in the SBU, PBUs and Group have worked together to make this wind power project happen.”

In mid-February all 190 wind turbines had been delivered ahead of schedule — Transport coordinated the delivery of 10-plus wind turbines per week for more than six months — and 167 have been erected, which is six weeks ahead of schedule. Ramirez said last week 100 of the turbines were producing power and have been handed over to Service. Vestas expects final commissioning of all 190 by mid-April.