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Bidders given second chance

In an agreement with wind developers and other parties, Public Service Co (PSCo) of Colorado says it will acquire 25 MW of wind power -- and that all customers will pay for the energy, not just those willing to pay a premium. Behind the decision is the need to settle a dispute over the company's announcement that it would re-open bidding for a project after it had already received offers in response to a Request For Proposals issued in March (Windpower Monthly, October 1998). Especially miffed were wind developers who had spent time and money responding to the RFP.

PSCo decided to take a new look at its resource needs and seek new bids after unexpected power shortages forced the company to implement rolling blackouts this summer. In addition, the March RFP did not yield enough offers for firm power, the company says.

At least one developer is far from thrilled with the 25 MW deal, even though he signed it. Shannon Murphy of TMA Global Wind Energy Systems of Cheyenne had hoped PSCo would agree to acquire at least 50 MW of wind. In total the utility is calling for almost 1000 MW of new capacity; only a quarter of 1% will be allocated to wind, he says.

The decision to acquire the 25 MW is part of a larger settlement in which the company plans to acquire 156 MW by September 1999, plus 676 MW by 2000. The 25 MW of wind, plus 15 MW of other renewables is in addition to the 832 MW, says PSCo.

The wind industry pushed PSCo to include the 25 MW in rates, rather than offer it at a green power premium, says Jay Brizie of the Colorado Office of Energy Conservation. PSCo already has a green pricing program, he points out, in which a few people pay for a benefit enjoyed by everyone. The renewable community wants to see everyone on the system pay for a little clean energy.

Under the agreement, wind power will not be considered as an option for offsetting the 676 MW needed by 2000, but will be considered to meet the company's needs after 2001. The wind bidders who responded to the first RFP will be the only bidders eligible to bid on the 25 MW. The winners will be chosen by Feb. 28, 1999.

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