Hydropower, Project Development, Wind Power

Utility Agency in U.S. Midwest Wants to Build a Windfarm

The Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska is assessing bids on the development of a windfarm of 10 to 20 megawatt in capacity.

LINCOLN, Nebraska, US, 2001-09-12 [SolarAccess.com] The Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska is assessing bids on the development of a windfarm of 10 to 20 megawatt in capacity. MEAN wants to integrate 5 MW of the project capacity into its resource mix and to sell an additional 5 MW to its members who are interested in offering a wind energy option directly to retail customers. The optional 10 MW is contingent on securing contracts with other purchasers that have expressed interest in purchasing green energy, and MEAN would work with the consultant to develop the additional facility on a merchant basis. The output from the first 10 MW would be 3 percent of the agency’s energy requirements. If the location at Kimball is successful on a small scale, it may construct additional turbines in the future. The wholesale agency serves 40 retail electricity providers in Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming, and wants the wind energy to supply voluntary green pricing programs. Wind data indicate that Kimball is a Class IV site, one of the better wind resources in the state of Nebraska, and an analysis indicates there may be some Class V sites as well. The winfarm will be sited near an Interstate, so a visitor center can be included as an economic development tool. The consultant will acquire and construct the turbines and associated equipment, including turbine foundations, roads and overhead transmission lines. The turbines should be at least 1.2 MW capacity to limit the number of towers and the footprint required. The site has lightning storms, and turbines should have integrated lightning protection systems. Bids closed recently for construction of the project. The winning developer is expected to have experience in providing project design, construction and management services for similar projects, and the winning selection will be announced soon. The deadline for completing the project is October 2002 to ensure that the project is eligible for the Renewable Energy Production Incentive that applies to public power entities such as MEAN. REPI expires in December 2003, which provides more flexibility for project completion than the production tax credit. MEAN was created in 1981 by the state of Nebraska. It has a peak demand of 260 MW which is met by federal hydropower allocations, coal-fired generation, oil and natural gas fueled diesel generation. One of MEAN’s members, the City of Aspen, Colorado, already purchases the output of a 660 kilowatt wind turbine on a pass-through cost basis.