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LES to add 100 MW of wind energy


From the August 6, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published August 6, 2013

By Fallon Forbush
Communications Assistant

The Lincoln Electric System has finalized a power purchase agreement that will quadruple its 30 megawatts of wind capacity by adding 100 megawatts of wind-generated energy to its portfolio by January 2016. The Nebraska utility will receive all 100 megawatts of wind energy from EDP Renewables’ Arbuckle Mountain Wind Farm, located in south-central Oklahoma.

"Taking advantage of a market strengthened by the extension of the federal production tax credit for large-scale wind farms, LES was able to secure a 20-year contract with EDP Renewables that will deliver our customer-owners considerable savings in projected power costs," said LES Administrator and CEO Kevin Wailes. "We expect to begin realizing these savings in the first year, with the benefits increasing throughout the life of the contract."

The agreement is projected to save LES customer-owners $160 million in power costs over the 20-year contract time frame, LES said.

Adding more wind energy to the mix will also provide a hedge against the possibility that Congress might impose a carbon tax or require costly emission controls for coal plants, Wailes said.

By 2016, more than 23 percent of LES’s annual retail sales will be supplied by renewable energy, which includes wind, solar, hydro and landfill gas, LES said.

The utility’s existing wind resources, combined with its federal hydro power allocation, enabled it to meet 10 percent of its load with renewable resources last year, LES said in its 2012 annual report. In 2012, 9 percent of LES’s total energy came from renewable energy; 4 percent from oil and gas; 17 percent from wholesale purchases; and 70 percent from coal.

The additional wind energy will boost the utility's renewable resource component power portfolio by 12 percent, LES said.

In an editorial, "Wind energy right move," the Lincoln Journal Star said LES's plan to increase the amount of energy it gets from wind "no doubt will please ratepayers who fancy themselves as environmentally responsible."

"Ratepayers who are most concerned about the size of their utility bills also should accept the plan as a reasonable effort to prepare for an uncertain future," said the Journal Star.

Out of several proposals received for the project, the EDP Renewables wind farm was selected for its highly competitive costs, strength of existing electric transmission connections, company experience, reputation and qualifications, and the project structure and timeline, LES said.

"LES is a company with the foresight to lock in competitive long-term prices for its ratepayers, and we are pleased to partner with them as a supplier of affordable clean energy," said Gabriel Alonso, CEO of EDP Renewables North America.

 

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