A former nuclear test site will become the second largest wind energy facility in the United States.
WASHINGTON, DC – “This clean, renewable energy project will result in the second largest wind power farm in the United States,” says Energy secretary Bill Richardson. “The wind farm will be generating energy by the end of the year and will help increase energy supplies in California and other areas suffering from energy shortages. It also will benefit taxpayers by helping cut the Department of Energy’s energy costs.” Richardson and Senator Harry Reid of Nevada has signed an agreement to install turbines on part of the Nevada Test Site, 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. It will link the MNS Wind Company and the NTS Development Corporation (NTSDC) in a partnership created to produce energy from the wind at NTS. MNS Wind is a partnership being negotiated between M&N WindPower of La Jolla, Calif. and Siemens Energy &Automation of Atlanta, Ga. “The time is right to embrace new forms of clean energy and Nevada is the right location to build a pollution-free wind farm that will serve as a source for that much needed power,” says Reid. “We should all learn from California’s experience with electricity deregulation and begin work now to make these changes, before deregulation takes place.” “As demand for power continues to increase in California, Nevada and elsewhere, additional sources of electricity must be developed,” he adds. “This wind farm will aid in increasing those available power supplies, without endangering the health of the surrounding environment.” Reid obtained the easement on the property for NTSDC, which is a nonprofit group that works with the Department of Energy to promote the growth of science and technology in Nevada. Last month, DOE and NTSDC agreed to make 664 acres available for the wind farm. The NTS ceased nuclear weapons testing in 1992. “There are many locations across the country where use of wind and solar power makes sense; the Nevada Test Site is just one of them,” says General John Gordon, Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration. “As the owner-operator of the Test Site, we are glad to be able to cooperate in this project that is fully consistent with long-term NNSA missions.” The first phase of the three-phase project calls for at least 120 turbines to be operational by the end of this year, generating 85 MW for 85,000 people at fast growing communities in Nevada and California. The other two phases of the project will be developed 18 months after the first phase is completed. Following those two installations, the wind farm will have 325 wind turbines generating 260 MW of electricity for 260,000 people. The project will create jobs for up to 200 construction workers and 30 maintenance and operating jobs. The NTS wind turbine project furthers Richardson’s commitment to have DOE purchase 3 percent of its electricity from green power facilities that rely on solar, wind, biomass and geothermal energy facilities located throughout the U.S. With this latest commitment, DOE will meet its 2005 renewable energy goal of 3 percent two years early. It is also committed to purchasing 7.5 percent of its electricity from non-hydro renewable energy sources by 2010. The wind farm will contribute to the ability of DOE’s Nevada Operations Office to support the national security mission of the NTS. Prorated over the three phases of the project, the wind farm operators will provide free energy equivalent to ten percent of its NTS electrical consumption last year. Potential construction, operation and maintenance work may reduce infrastructure and site service costs to DOE programs and other users of the NTS. DOE’s green power purchase will stimulate the development of 50 MW of renewable energy sources in the U.S. and the purchase will encourage the development of renewable power generation by small and disadvantaged businesses, including some owned by Native Americans. The largest U.S. wind farm is being constructed on the border of Oregon and Washington and will generate 300 MW. Another site in California generates 110 MW. Wind energy costs between 3 and 5 cents to generate one kilowatt-hour of electricity, down from 10 cents a decade ago, and DOE estimates that at least 16 states will use more than 20 MW of wind energy by 2005.