Consolidating Wind Industry Looks to New York State

The production tax credit is a big motivator for wind energy development this year. But add a state-based renewable portfolio standard (RPS) on top of that, and it seems that a wealth of wind developers spring to action.

Two company partnerships have announced plans to add a total of almost 550 MW of wind power to the New York grid over the next few years. The developments from AES and PPM Energy also reflect a strong new commitment from the two major companies to extend their wind power presence nationwide, and are part of a growing trend toward consolidation in the wind power industry. AES Corporation of Virginia has entered into a joint venture with Spain-based sustainable energy company EHN for wind developments in the counties of Niagara and Clinton, where the companies have gathered over two years of meteorological data. They also plan to pursue other new projects in the state, and expect to build more than 350 MW of new capacity in New York over the next few years. “We see a tremendous growth opportunity in wind generation, which is a natural extension of AES’s power generation businesses. The joint venture with EHN rounds out AES’s wind energy portfolio and gives the company a presence in 14 states in the US,” said Ned Hall, AES Vice President, Wind Generation. This is AES’s third expansion into wind generation in the past six months. The company recently acquired SeaWest, which has wind facilities and development sites in the western US. And in 2004, the company invested in US Wind Force, LLC, which is developing wind generation projects for the renewable energy market in the mid-Atlantic US. Through the SeaWest acquisition, US Wind Force investment and the joint venture with EHN, AES has approximately 2,750 MW of projects in development. Oregon based PPM Energy, a subsidiary of ScottishPower, and Zilkha Renewable Energy of Texas formed a venture partnership to build and own the Maple Ridge wind development in upstate New York. Maple Ridge is expected to be 198 MW, and, according to the companies, should nearly quadruple the total installed wind capacity in New York. PPM’s share of the capital invested in the project is expected to be approximately $160 million, with completion of the 120-turbine wind energy facility expected in December 2005. Maple Ridge is strategically located so that it can sell power into the New York power pool, according to PPM, and has sold renewable energy certificates (RECs) under a 10-year contract to the state of New York. PPM controls about 830 MW of operating wind energy, and previously announced three other projects totaling 325 MW earlier in the year. Along with Maple Ridge, these projects will bring PPM’s total wind portfolio to approximately 1,255 MW by the end of 2005, well on target toward its goal of at least 2,300 MW online by 2010.
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