LES seeks to triple wind energy use

May 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Lincoln Electric System wants to as much as triple the amount of wind energy it has now within the next two years.

“This is a substantial change for us,” said Jason Fortik, vice president of power supply.

On Friday, the LES Administrative Board gave Fortik and his staff the green light to negotiate a purchase agreement for 100 additional megawatts of wind energy.

The city-owned utility has about 30 megawatts of wind energy now.

LES would not build any wind farms but would contract with a wind developer to buy the electricity for a fixed price over 20 years, Fortik said. 

In January, the utility said it wants to explore adding up to 50 megawatts of wind energy to its generation portfolio. Three months later, it asked companies to submit proposals for projects and later revised the request for up to 100 megawatts, Fortik said.

“We had an indication that it was a good time to take ¬†advantage of pricing for turbines,” he said.

Like other utilities, LES is interested in taking advantage of a federal tax credit for large-scale wind farms that was extended for one year.

Of the 13 companies that responded to the initial LES request, several indicated they were interested in the higher number of wind turbines and would submit proposals. Fortik and his staff are evaluating all of the proposals and will develop a short list of six companies.

“Our goal is to select the top two firms and start negotiations by the end of May,” he said.

A power purchase agreement could be finalized by July 1.

Fortik declined to name any of the companies, saying it would not be appropriate. He did say they’re all in the Midwest.

A wind developer would have to deliver the electricity over transmission line routes approved by the Southwest Power Pool regional transmission network.

In addition to the 1.3 megawatts of wind power LES gets from its two turbines north of Lincoln, it gets 6 from Elkhorn Ridge Wind Farm, 10 from Laredo Ridge, 10 from Broken Bow and 3 from Crofton Bluffs — all in Nebraska.

One megawatt can power about 750 homes for a year.

Depending on negotiations, a wind developer could have a wind farm built in 2014-15.

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