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United States

Governor leads the way on wind

Colorado's leading citizens are not only coming out in support of wind power, but are backing their promises with hard cash. The Governor of Colorado, Roy Romer, and representatives of several leading companies that operate in the state, are to buy wind generated electricity under a green pricing programme, Windsource, run by Public Service Co of Colorado (PSCo).

Romer joined private and municipal utilities and more than a dozen corporate and community leaders on August 21 at the governor's residence to announce partnerships to boost wind energy in Colorado. His official mansion is soon be powered by wind and he also issued an executive order that the state meet a goal of trying to increase its use of renewables significantly.

In attendance at the announcement were officials from PSCo's corporate "champions" who will each buy at least 15% of the energy generated by a wind turbine. They include the City of Boulder, the City of Denver, CF&I Steel, Coors Brewing Company, IBM, and US West.

Its time has come

"Renewable energy is a promising resource whose time has come in Colorado," said Romer. "Many Coloradans have said they prefer electricity generated by the wind and now for the first time in Colorado's history utility companies are offering us this choice." He said that beginning this winter the governor's residence will be powered by a wind farm of 13 Zond turbines being built by PSCo in Weld County. Funds set aside for renewable demonstration activities will help offset the added cost for the wind, currently being marketed at a slightly higher rate.

"I'm proud to say that the governor's residence will soon be powered by energy generated by Colorado's wind," said Romer. "I hope businesses and individuals who place a value on renewable energy will take advantage of these new opportunities to purchase green power." The executive order is a direct response to a preliminary recommendation from his Renewable Energy Task Force, which is to release its full report this month on ways for Colorado to use renewables.

"I believe each of us can have a role in expanding the use of these future oriented technologies and taking advantage of our state's plentiful supply of sun and wind. I believe the State of Colorado should be among the leaders in using renewables, and I' m issuing this executive order to help make that happen."

Also in Colorado, the new visitors' centre at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden will be powered by wind, too. NREL will buy 4000 kWh monthly from the Windsource programme, says site operator director John Shaffer. The lab -- which operates the National Wind Technology Centre and which is run by the Department of Energy (DOE) -- already uses solar power for auxiliary purposes. But no US government lab has ever before used renewable energy from a utility to power a whole building.

The $10 million wind farm which will supply the power is being installed by Distributed Generation Systems Inc by early 1998 (Windpower Monthly, May 1997). Construction was to start on the first six turbine phase last month. Business customers can buy 1 MWh blocks for $25 monthly if there is a commitment for three years.

Federal grant

Romer has ordered the offices of energy conservation and of planning and budgeting to help all other state agencies to identify and implement cost effective and practical renewable energy applications. The office of energy conservation is to develop a plan that allows price preferences for buying renewable electricity at premium rates.

Application has been made for a federal grant to help pay for the programme. Romer said his office has been working with PSCo to get a grant from the DOE so wind energy is more affordable for customers. The grant is expected to be final this autumn.

So far, wind energy in Colorado is being retailed by PSCo, Fort Collins Light and Power, and Holy Cross Electric Association in Glenwood Springs. Colorado Springs Utilities is also planning to launch a green pricing programme soon. Much of the state's wind energy will be supplied by the wind turbines being built by PSCo. Fort Collins' programme will begin receiving electricity soon from Mitsubishi turbines being built in Wyoming by SeaWest. The programmes are getting strong support from environmental and renewables groups, including the Land and Water Fund of the Rockies, Community Office of Resource Efficiency, Boulder Energy Conservation Center, and the Colorado Renewable Energy Society.

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