Arkansas Business: Wind energy generation on the rise in Arkansas

February 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – Wind energy generation is on the rise in the states surrounding Arkansas, and so that renewable energy resource is also seeing more use from some of the state’s utility companies.

While you don’t see any large-scale wind farms here in Arkansas, that doesn’t mean that Arkansas companies and consumers don’t benefit from this emerging energy source.

Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp., for one, receives 51 megawatts of energy from a wind farm in Kansas, and has for a couple of years.

By the end of 2014, Electric Cooperative will begin a contract with another wind farm that will increase its wind generation to 201 megawatts.

It’s not a huge number, considering that the co-op gets more than 3,000 megawatts from all its generation sources.

But still, a one-megawatt wind turbine can power 240 to 400 homes.

The co-op said it likes wind energy because the contracts allowed it to use the power under a fixed price over several years, and that can help lower wholesale power rates for member cooperatives around the state.

Significant wind energy is also used by Southwest Power Pool, a regional transmission operator based in Little Rock that serves eight states in the mid-South.

Lanny Nickell, vice president of engineering for Southwest, said the company has about 8,000 megawatts of wind resources connected to its regional grid.

Like the co-op, all of Southwest’s wind generation comes from outside Arkansas, with 75 percent of that coming from Oklahoma and Kansas.

Right now, wind represents about 10 percent of its power portfolio, but like the co-op, Southwest is planning to add more wind.

In fact, Southwest expects to have another 2,000 megawatts in place by the end of the year.

Nickell said Southwest’s region could eventually generate up to 90,000 megawatts of wind energy.

He calls wind “a very economical” source of energy, especially after federal tax credits that help to ease the steep capital investment required to build the turbines.

Those tax credits were renewed by Congress late last year.

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