NNSA is known for harnessing the power of the atom to help defend the United States. But the facility in Texas where we assemble and dissemble nuclear warheads is powered in part by an entirely different form of energy: the largest government-owned wind farm in the country.
In 2013, NNSA built the 11.5-megawatt Pantex Renewable Energy Project (PREP) Wind Farm, with five turbines, each 400 feet tall, built on 1,500 acres of federal land adjacent to the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas. It holds the honor of the largest federal wind farm in the United States. The farm is designed to generate more than 47 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, about 60% of Pantex’s energy needs.
“NNSA is always looking for innovative ways to power and sustain our Enterprise,” said Ken Sheely, acting Associate Administrator for NNSA’s Office of Safety, Infrastructure, and Operations. “The wind farm at Pantex is one of those prime examples where we are able to recognize the cost savings in addition to the benefits of sustainable energy.”
The PREP Wind Farm reduces CO2 emissions by over 35,000 metric tons per year, the equivalent of removing 7,200 cars from the road each year or planting 850,000 trees. It was constructed for $52.9 million – the value of the guaranteed energy savings generated by the turbines is expected to average $2.8 million annually.
Each of the turbines are 332 feet in total diameter and generate 2,300 kilowatts of electricity. And these things aren’t just powerful, they’re also smart. Each turbine is equipped with a Turbine Condition Monitoring system that continuously checks its external and internal conditions, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.