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Good bid response

Fourteen bids for supplying energy from resources that include wind were received by Central and Southwest Corporation (CSW) of Dallas in response to its Request for Proposals (RFP) for 75 MW of new renewables capacity, issued on June 10. The bids totalled some 385 MW of wind, hydro and landfill gas. "We were pleased with the number of bidsÉwe were expecting fewer," says Larry Jones of CSW, a public utility company.

He adds the response indicates the growing interest in renewables, a trend the utility had already pinpointed in its three "town meetings" or Deliberative Polls held last year at each of the three CSW operating companies. The solicitation is one of only a few sizeable requests for new renewables capacity now on-going in the US, observers note. CSW is also one of the few utilities with wind plant already operating in its service area -- 6 MW of Zond Z-40 turbines that started operation in west Texas in 1995.

Bidders must offer power that is commercially available by June 1, 1999, for Central Power and Light Company, West Texas Utilities Company, and Southwestern Electric Power Co. A final decision will probably be made in December. The closely watched solicitation, with an August 1 deadline, had been issued as part of the utility's Integrated Resource Plan, filed in January with Texas regulators. They must also approve the final selection.

CSW officials have previously said that a single wind project of 40-50 MW is a likely wind component (Windpower Monthly, June 1997). CSW is also launching a green pricing plan known as Clear Choice, which will initially enable residential customers in one as-yet-unnamed city in Texas to choose clean power such as wind -- and pay more for it. It is unclear if the green programme would lead to additional wind plants though, even if customers choose wind. CSW officials have at times said the utility's two renewables programmes are separate and that any Clear Choice wind would be in addition to what is solicited under the current RFP. But at other times the utility has seemed to back off, saying instead that green pricing needs could be met by the solicitation.

CSW said last month that it expects to submit the green pricing plan for approval to state regulators within two months. The plan, which may then ultimately be introduced in other parts of the holding company's market outside Texas after additional testing this autumn, could lead to another solicitation for clean power, said CSW's Ward Marshall in June. But he also conceded that there might not be another solicitation.

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