Budgeting for wind-farm O&M

Editor’s note: This article comes from EDF Renewable Services O&M Insights. It is authored by Jeanay Langer, O&M Sales & Marketing Proposal Coordinator with EDF Renewable Services, and Valerie Mason, Communications Manager with EDF Renewable Energy.

Budgeting for O&M. Not the most exciting task, but necessary for a business to not only succeed, but to thrive. There are many things to think about when budgeting for operations and maintenance tasks. Here are six of the most important:

O&M insights -- EDF

Make sure to include your O&M provider in the budgeting process. They are on site every day and have a good idea of repairs and inspections the site may need.

1. Plan ahead for needed inspections, repairs and upgrades. Many customers know winter is rough on their blades and accordingly have budgeted for an inspection. During inspections we often find blade damage that is impacting production, but the money needed for repairs was not factored into the budget. If your site requires an inspection next year, set aside some additional money to make repairs and bring the site back to full production as quickly as possible.

2. Install upgrades at the same time as repairs. The most expensive parts of a turbine blade repair are the associated labor and downtime. Consider taking advantage of turbine downtime by installing performance-improving solutions like vortex generators and leading-edge protection at the same time. This way you only need to budget one trip to the turbine and unnecessary downtime can be avoided.

3. Major components fail. No one likes to think about failures, but they are part of owning a project. Be sure your budget includes contingency funds to cover the cost of a few gearbox replacements or generator repairs. Your O&M provider can help you analyze which components you should budget for. You don’t want to be stuck with down turbines because of unavailable funds.

4. Remain NERC compliant. It seems like NERC regulations are constantly evolving with new standards rolling out multiple times a year. Depending on the size of your site, NERC requirements are extensive. Fines for noncompliance can be extremely large and are assessed on a daily basis until the issue is mitigated. Make sure there is enough money in your budget to hire NERC experts to ensure your site is compliant and stays that way.

5. System upgrades. In EDF Renewables’ June 2017 Insights issue, company experts wrote about upgrading SCADA servers. While this might not seem like an urgent item, if your SCADA servers are more than seven years old, it is time to think about upgrading your system. Instead of spending T&M dollars on fixing an outdated system, consider budgeting to virtualize the servers. With a virtual server, physical equipment will not need to be fixed and system updates can be done in minutes.

6. Get quotes early. Late spring through early fall is a very busy time for O&M service providers. If your site is going to need an oil change or end of warranty inspections, get quotes and secure a service provider 6 to 8 months before the work needs to be completed. Scheduling work ahead usually leads to lower costs and ensures that your O&M provider is staffed appropriately for any work needed on your site.

Most importantly, be sure to include your O&M provider in the budgeting process. They are on site every day and have a good idea of repairs and inspections the site may need.

EDF RS has over 10 GW of projects under contract and has supported many of our customers’ budgeting processes. Learn more here.

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