NC analyzes wind energy costs

September 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

September 26, 2013By Jim Brumm

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The state’s 2012 Collaborative Transmission Plan says this would fund 11 major projects costing more than $10 million, adding eight were identified as needed to preserve system reliability and improve economic transfers on the state’s grid.

The other three are merger mitigation projects required by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission before it approved the merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy last year, Duke spokesman Jeff Brooks explained when the plan was released in January.

The plan includes no projects to deliver wind energy with Brooks noting this month “the onshore potential in (North Carolina) is very limited.  The main potential is along mountain ridges, but NC has a law that prohibits development.”

Just how limited has been questioned. The state Utilities Commission has licensed three onshore wind projects in the coastal area near Pamlico Sound, but the companies licensed to develop the two largest projects have been unable to find buyers for the power.

In 2008, Progress Energy contracted to buy power from what was expected to be North Carolina’s first commercial wind farm. The Golden Wind Farm was planned by Raleigh entrepreneur Nelson Paul who got Commission permission to build three turbines on 33 acres he owned in Carteret County, which blocked the effort with zoning changes.

The studies of offshore power exclude the largest costs of those projects, including the equipment needed generate electricity and deliver it ashore. The BOEM puts offshore transmission costs at $2 million to $5 million per mile.

In February, the North Carolina Transmission Planning Collaborative (NCTPC) released an analysis prepared with the PJM Interconnection – which controls the flow of power throughout the Mid-Atlantic States – projecting the integration of 3,000 – 10,000 megawatts off-shore wind in North Carolina and Virginia would require some $1-2 billion in transmission upgrades.

Projecting costs over a 15 year period, instead of the 10 years used by Carolina utilities, this analysis transmission upgrade costs of $1.2 billion for a wind farm off Southport.

For power coming ashore at Morehead City, the costs are also projected at $1.2 billion.

The existence of better infrastructure in the Landstowne, VA area resulted in a $932 million.

The North Carolina Collaborative was formed in 2005 to develop a shared plan for the state’s electric transmission system. Participants include two Duke operating subsidiaries, Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress; NC Electric Membership Corporation representing the ctric co-ops; and ElectriCities of North Carolina, representing municipal utilities.

The North Carolina transmission grid is owned and operated by the two utilities, delivering power to the co-ops and munis as well as their retail customers.

Since 2005, projects totaling $898 million have been identified in the NCTPC plans, with $352 million of construction completed through 2012.

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