Wind Power Co-op to the Pacific Northwest

A collaborative of non-profit organizations and utilities have announced plans to form a new wind power co-op in the Pacific Northwest with opportunities for rural landowners, urban consumers, investors, and wind turbine dealers.

OLYMPIA, Washington – April 17, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] The NW Cooperative Development Center (NWCDC) and NW Sustainable Energy for Economic Development (NWSEED) are in final negotiations with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for funding to help launch “Our Wind Co-op,” which will coordinate the installation of at least 10 small, wind systems on farms, ranches and rural facilities over the next 18 months. “With Earth Day around the corner, people across the Northwest are asking what they can do for a cleaner, healthier Northwest,” said Jim Perich-Anderson, Director of the Earth Day Network’s NW Climate Campaign. “By purchasing efficient, earth-friendly green power, either through this new Our Wind Co-op, the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, or their own utility, consumers can show their commitment to energy resources that benefit both the region’s economy and the global climate.” The initial goal of Our Wind Co-op is to demonstrate that distributed, locally owned wind turbines producing power to meet local loads are feasible and cost-effective throughout the Northwest. The wind turbine model that will be installed on most host sites, the 10-kilowatt Bergey Excel, generates enough electricity (approximately 1200-1600 kWh per month) to offset a considerable portion of the electricity load of a farm or ranch. “Ultimately Our Wind Co-op will help remove barriers to widespread distributed, locally-owned wind energy development in the Pacific Northwest through innovative partnerships, technical support, outreach and informed dialogue with motivated farmers and consumers,” explained NWSEED executive director Heather Rhoads-Weaver. To date, more than 50 interested landowners, investors, installers and host utilities have responded to the co-op interest survey. “We’d love to see these initial 100 kilowatts grow to at least a megawatt of dispersed, clean generation – with hundreds of farms powered by small wind turbines throughout the region – by 2005,” said Rob Harmon, Vice President of the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF), a major project sponsor. The farm-scale wind systems distributed across the Northwest will be linked in part through the sale of “Green Co-op Tags” to BEF. Green Tags, representing the pollution offsets of clean energy generation, are a new way to support renewable facilities that are independently reviewed and endorsed by leading environmental groups. Purchasing Green Tags through Our Wind “Buyer’s Co-op” will support economic growth in rural economies in the Northwest as well as an environmentally friendly energy source. These sales will provide a significant revenue stream for the project, which is particularly important in the Northwest where retail electricity costs are still well below the national average. Earlier this week, BEF also announced a new partnership to kick-start customer-owned solar installations with Green Tags through a co-op. As many as 30 solar systems on homes and businesses will be included in the first phase of this new NW Renewable Energy Cooperative project.
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