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Shiloh II Wind Farm Communications Network: Our high-fiber solution to lose wait

Shiloh II is one of multiple wind farms located in Montezuma Hills, California. This 152-mega-watt power player consists of 75 wind turbines spanning 7,000 acres.

Like any team members, the Shiloh II turbines need strong communication to work together. In this case, each turbine needed to connect to real-time worldwide data communication links. The communication lines needed to support CAISO, PG&E, the turbine manufacturer in Germany and the network operations center in Iowa.

Tremendous amounts of data needed to go here, there and everywhere. That’s where the disconnect began, and JES Engineering stepped in.

“Things come in threes”

Initially, the local phone company set out to provide the service for our client with a direct fiber link. Three troubles quickly emerged:

  • The installation would take too long. The schedule exceeded the due date by several months, largely due to infrastructure issues.
  • The cost greatly exceeded the budget.
  • The communication capacity fell far short of what Shiloh II needed.

Despite the best-laid plans, the phone company simply didn’t have the ability to complete the project efficiently or cost effectively. They estimated $500,000 to create a direct link to the point of connection.

Adding to the wait-and-cost dilemma was a capacity crunch: a direct link would provide about one-fourth of the capacity needed. Shiloh II would then land on a waiting list for at least six months, when additional capacity became available (for additional cost).

Hop to it

When the timeline, cost and capacity issues ultimately ruled out the phone company, our client asked us to find a solution fast. So we hopped to it. Literally. We designed and installed a two-hop wireless microwave communication link. The time-and-cost-saving kicker? We utilized a microwave system from an existing communication facility that had high-capacity fiber readily available. This got rid of the wait, no problem, and would fill the capacity with ease. High fiber never seemed so satisfying.

Another keen benefit was creating a high speed data link to the existing O&M building, which the phone company solution wouldn’t have provided.

The two-hop microwave system shot across the Sacramento Delta to a mountain top east of San Francisco. JES engineered the microwave system, completed the design, permitting and construction of two new communication towers and a communication shelter, and completed the network design, FCC licensing and FAA permitting within 90 days.

The JES Engineering solution kept our client on schedule and well under budget. The system provided enough capacity for current needs and all foreseeable expansion for future wind farms in that area. This, in turn, saved our client hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In moving companies forward, we tend to look back. We take a moment to evaluate existing resources, and work to leverage them. In this case, the most appropriate solution was towering right in front of everyone.

For this project, we provided:

  • Analysis of data exchange requirements
  • Physical path survey
  • Structural engineering analysis
  • Civil engineering design
  • Local planning and permitting
  • Communication standards and specifications
  • Construction services
  • Technical support throughout construction
  • FAA Permitting
  • FCC Licensing