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British start soon on Texas site

The development rights to a site in Texas with a 250 MW potential have been bought by Britain's National Wind Power (NWP) from the bankrupt estate of Kenetech Windpower. NWP, Britain's largest wind developer, paid $225,000 for the Culberson County site. It was helped byHouston-based American National Power, the US subsidiary of its parent company, National Power PLC, and the owner of 680 MW of gas-fired capacity.

NWP's Alan Moore says the wind farm will be developed in phases and work on the first 30 MW will be completed to take advantage of the federal Production Tax Credit of $0.015/kWh before its expiry at the end of June. Output will be sold to local utilities. The site, some 100 miles east of El Paso, is described by NWP's David Butterworth as ideal, with a grid line feeding power from an existing Kenetech 35 MW wind farm. "It is very windy and we think we will be able to offer wind power at a very competitive price," he comments. NWP is negotiating with equipment suppliers and has to obtain just four minor consents before it can begin work on building the first phase.

NWP believes that prospects are good for wind in Texas. Deregulation of the state's electricity supply -- due in 1999 -- will give customers a choice of supplier and regulatory proposals could enable utilities to implement green pricing. "Opinion polls show that Texan customers are much more likely to buy green power and they are prepared to pay a premium," says Butterworth.

If fully developed, the Texas project is almost twice the size of NWP's entire UK wind farm portfolio of 132 MW. The combination of American National Power's knowledge of the market, NWP's wind expertise, and National Power's financing ability is one of the crucial factors behind NWP's ability to enter the US market, its first overseas venture, says Butterworth.

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