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Tennessee drops wind storage tests

A Chicago-based energy and transmission developer, Invenergy, won the bid to expand Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) Buffalo Mountain wind plant. The 27 MW project, using 18, 1.5 MW wind turbines, will sit alongside three Vestas V47 660 kW turbines already in place on the site of an abandoned strip mine near Oliver Springs, Tennessee. EnXco installed the original turbines in September 2000 (Windpower Monthly, October 2000).

Invenergy signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with TVA in January and will begin construction in the spring, with completion before the end of this year. TVA will use the output to fill orders for its successful Green Power Switch program that offers renewable energy, including wind, solar and landfill gas generation, to customers (Windpower Monthly, June 2001).

The principals of Invenergy consist of much of the management team from SkyGen Energy, which was sold to Calpine Corp in Oct. 2000. They formed Invenergy in July 2001. According to vice-president Enio Ricci, the company has close to 1000 MW of wind projects on the drawing board spread across the United States.

TVA, a federal power generation and marketing agency that serves much of the southeastern US, released a solicitation in August 2001 for two other sites, asking for 20-25 MW of wind energy by October 2003 followed by 20-30 MW more by October 2004, but the sites "didn't work out," says TVA's Gil Francis. The agency released a second solicitation in June 2002, which Invenergy LLC won.

TVA had considered testing an energy storage system near Buffalo Mountain, but instead decided instead to install and test the facility at a lignite power plant near the Columbus Air Force Base in Alabama.

Francis says TVA included plans for the storage system in the project's environmental impact statement to prepare for a potential installation. The facility would have stored energy produced by wind for peak use when the wind does not blow, he says. At the Columbus plant, on the other hand, the system will store energy generated during off-peak hours to sell during on-peak hours. Regenesys Technologies, which developed the energy storage technology, is a wholly owned subsidiary of major British utility Innogy, which in turn is owned by Germany's RWE. It has previously said it sees great potential for using Regenesys in tandem with wind power installations.

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