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Who is Steelhead?
Steelhead Americas (Steelhead) is the North American development arm of Vestas– the global leader in wind energy. Vestas designs, manufactures, installs, and services onshore and offshore wind turbines across the globe. With more than 145 GW in 85 countries, Vestas has installed more wind power than anyone else. By leveraging Vestas’ industry expertise and turbine technology, Steelhead develops new wind and solar projects across the US and brings the benefits of renewable energy to local communities.
With a seasoned team of subject matter experts, we specialize in all stages of the development process and work closely with communities on potential wind projects. Steelhead is in a unique position to connect local communities with opportunities for clean energy and create responsible projects that will benefit generations for decades.
Steelhead is proud to take an active role in working with landowners, agencies, and partners throughout the development process. A community approach is ingrained into our mission, and we welcome opportunities to learn the history, vision, and realities of where you live.
We keep landowners and communities informed of project news and any actions that might relate to your property, business, or day-to-day activities. For example, Steelhead connects with community members and leaders in the local area, hosts open houses and webinars, visits local schools, and attends public events.
Location of Wind Projects
There are several qualities needed for a successful wind project, including adequate wind supply, a sizable electrical grid, and sufficient land area. Locations also need to meet high standards for responsible development when it comes to topics such as transportation, soils, environmental conditions, and more.
Most of all, wind projects require partnerships. Steelhead prioritizes its partnerships with local communities, businesses, and landowners to develop a project that maximizes the benefits for the local area.
Wind Energy and the US Grid
Wind energy is a historic and growing part of the American electrical grid. Vestas installed its first turbine in California in the 1980s and its contribution nationally has grown tremendously over the years. Today, Vestas has installed 36+ GW in the US to date, equaling over 24,000 turbines. Vestas has 7,500 employees across the country with corporate offices in Oregon and Massachusetts and manufacturing facilities in Colorado.
The reason for this large geographic spread is clear– wind projects are a positive addition to the grid and strengthen domestic energy production. Wind energy is the number one source of renewable energy in the US. As of January 2022, the U.S. Wind Turbine Database (USWTDB) contains more than 70,800 operating turbines.
Wind projects provide reliable, cost-competitive energy that helps meet growing consumer demand.
Wind turbines act as a “cash crop” and provide additional, yearly income which increases financial security for landowners and can help keep generational land in the family. Each year, wind projects deliver around $1.9 billion in state and local tax payments and land-lease payments.
Projects not only partner with local businesses and suppliers but also boost local spending at hotels, restaurants, and more during the one-year construction process.
Wind projects create hundreds of jobs during manufacturing, construction, and service. Currently, there are 117,000 Americans employed in the wind industry.
Wind projects require little to no water once operational, do not release harmful air pollutants or CO2 emissions, and the small footprint allows land to be used for farming, ranching, and more. In addition, wind projects achieve net energy neutrality within six months of operation – meaning the power it takes to build a wind farm is recouped shortly after turbines begin generating power.
Steelhead is committed to environmentally responsible development and is actively engaged in assessing risk and minimizing impacts to wildlife during the development process. Developing a wind project also requires a careful approach and comprehensive analysis of environmental conditions in a community, which includes avian studies, wildlife studies, wetland studies, and cultural studies.
Credible estimates indicate that currently installed capacity affects less than 0.01% of most species’ populations. Steelhead ensures all projects meet federal, state, and local environmental regulations.
Steelhead completes a suite of studies before a site is operational to determine minimization and mitigation measures for species of concern.
Local, state, and federal law encourage or require avoidance of sensitive wetlands. Through the design process, Steelhead engineers minimize impacts to wetland characteristics. This is done through aerial imagery as well as on-the-ground delineation, so that impacts to water resources are avoided during construction and operations of the facility.
Each community has sites and locations that may be of historical significance. Steelhead collaborates with agencies and non-profit groups to make sure placement of project infrastructure is adequately setback from resources eligible for governmental recognition. Our goal is to design projects that respects the histories of all communities.
Sights and Sounds
Wind turbines are impressive engineering marvels and operate safely, quietly, and unobtrusively for landowners and communities. Even still, the prospect of hosting a new project in the community may feel like a substantial change. Wind turbines can be a symbol for working communities prioritizing the economic wellbeing of future generations.
Wind turbines emit little noise. In fact, two people can typically carry on a conversation at normal voice levels even while standing directly below a turbine.
Wind farms are a safe and effective means of generating electricity. In fact, a recent study found that the vast majority of people living within five miles of at least one wind turbine report positive or neutral experiences.
The first wind turbines in the United States were built in the 1980’s, meaning people have been living and working around wind farms for decades. Scientific evidence, including dozens of peer-reviewed studies, have shown properly sited wind turbines do not cause negative health effects. This includes concerns such as audible noise, low frequency noise, infrasound, and shadow flicker.
According to multiple peer-reviewed academic studies, wind energy projects have no significant long-term impact on property values and depreciation, with the good effects of a project balancing or surpassing any negative effects.
This 2021 study in “Energy Policy” found that of 2,971 counties, those with turbines actually saw increases in income (5%) and median homes value (2.6%).
Wind energy projects create jobs and generate both economic development and new tax revenues for localities where they are built, benefiting landowners, neighbors, property values and communities.
Operations and Maintenance
Turbines require preventative maintenance once or twice a year. Vestas is a leading service provider with over 1,680 technicians in North America who are highly experienced in ensuring smooth, safe operations throughout a project lifecycle.
In addition, Vestas’ headquarters in Oregon monitors turbine operations across the country 24/7, allowing us to identify and address any upcoming maintenance before it impacts operations.
A wind farm is built to last at least 20 to 30 years and is properly monitored and maintained throughout its lifecycle. Wind turbines can also be re-powered with newer, more efficient technologies over time to extend their useful life.
Before construction, Steelhead will create a decommissioning plan to ensure the wind project is decommissioned safely, responsibly, and sustainably without impacting the land. When a project is retired, we dismantle the wind turbines and restore the environment to its former state. Every component of the turbine within four feet of the surface is removed from the site during a routine decommissioning.