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Utilities seek wide range of designs

A variety of designs of wind turbine are expected to be represented in the projects that make up the next round of the Utility Wind Turbine Performance Verification Programme. The Request for Proposals for the second round, in which $7 million will be available, should be issued on March 1, says programme manager Earl Davis of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). The $7 million includes $1 million that was to have been used by Central Maine Power in the first round.

"We are seeking diversity in the bids -- climactic, geographical and technical," says Davis. EPRI and the US Department of Energy (DOE) are issuing the money to make utilities' current development programmes larger and earlier, so that commercialisation of utility-grade wind turbines is speeded up. Although the wind turbines should not all be the same, if the turbines in one or more projects are foreign, the DOE portion of the money will not be available, says Davis. The individual projects can get up to $3 million each, or as little as $1 million. The first round of the $40 million programme was announced last year (Windpower Monthly, September 1993).

Of the three utilities chosen for projects, Central Maine Power (CMP) has now pulled out. The utility is undergoing massive cut-backs of more than 10% of staff and of its development programmes, says the company's Tim Vrabel. CMP was to have received $1 million towards its involvement in the 250 MW New England Wind Energy Station (NEWS) in the Boundary Mountains of central Maine. Kenetech Windpower, which had agreements for CMP to buy 15 MW by 1995, and 15 MW by 1997, is currently re-negotiating with the utility, says Kenetech's Bud Grebey. The company hopes the $1 million grant -- now being offered in the second round -- will be transferred to another New England utility that can be involved in NEWS.

The second utility, Green Mountain Power (GMP) of Vermont, was last month due to issue a pre-solicitation letter for a 6-8 MW wind farm at Searsburg in the southern state, says GMP consultant John Zimmerman. A full solicitation is expected in August or September. Since the site is on US Forest Service land, an environmental impact statement is under way, adds EPRI's Davis. The project also has to get permits from the Vermont Public Service Board, says Zimmerman. The utility is receiving $3 million towards the project, a grant which has speeded up its wind power plans. The project would have been built a year or two later were it not for the programme money, says Davis.

The third programme project is also underway, with a solicitation for bids expected this month. A 6 MW wind farm is planned by Central and Southwest Corp of Dallas near Fort Davis in West Texas. The utility is receiving $2 million for the project, which was originally to be just 2 MW before the programme money was secured.

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