Developer sweeps the board for Basque country wind site concessions

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With the official nod for its fourth wind project, Eólicas de Euskadi SA (EESA) is sweeping the board of the Basque country's wind development concessions, capped at 175 MW to 2005. EESA's latest concession is for the 50 MW Badaia tender and it has put in a bid for a fifth tender, in Ganekogorta. EESA is a 50-50 joint venture between Basque-based utility Iberdrola -- Spain's largest wind operator -- and the regional government's holding company, Ente Vasco de la Energía (EVE). Iberdrola also controls regional electricity distribution and connection solicitations. Off the record grumbles of favouritism have never solidified into a formal complaint. "EESA is the only company to have carried out detailed wind and site studies in the Basque country," says the company's Celia Gonzalez de Heredia, starting measurements in 1992. The company developed the 27 MW Elgea R&D plant in 1999 and late last year the regional government conceded the Elgea-Urkilla (32.3 MW) and Oiz (25.5 MW) sites to EESA. Construction on these started in May and July. Most of the 850 kW turbines -- supplied by another Basque firm, Gamesa Eólica -- are already up. The cost of the development is EUR 47 million. Full operation is expected before the end of the year, bringing the Basque total to 85 MW, enough to cover 10% of regional domestic electricity demand. EESA says such speed is vital for minimising environmental impact from building. Other environmental measures include underground interconnection lines of 9-10 kilometres in each case.

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