Nevada wind farm changes hands -- Now going to tender

NEG Micon's Global Renewable Energy Partners (GREP) has sold the development rights for its 50 MW Ely Wind project in eastern Nevada to Carlson & Associates, an energy development company based in Las Vegas.

Although the new owner, who is also new to the wind business, wants to change the completion date and move the project to a higher elevation on ridges overlooking the Great Basin Desert, it says the project will still be built in time to help Nevada Power meet the state's 2005-06 minimum standard for the proportion of renewables in the state's supply portfolio.

GREP's contract with Sierra Pacific Resources, Nevada Power's parent, calls for the project to be located at the BHP Mine in Ruth Nevada, which sits at an elevation of about 1800 metres. New owner Tim Carlson says he needs extra time to develop wind sites on ridges east of the mine, which at 2400 metres has a better wind resource. Carlson is also working with the utility to change the end-2004 delivery date requirements in the contract with a view to 2005 completion. In addition, he wants more time to put together a financing package. GREP planned to use NEG Micon 1.5 MW turbines, but Carlson now says he will invite other wind turbine makers to bid on the project.

While Carlson is renegotiating the project's specifics with Sierra's parent, the utility is reviewing a handful of proposed projects from a second solicitation for renewable energy. Nevada Power's Faye Anderson says the utility is pleased with the number of responses to its July request for project proposals to meet the state's 2007-08 Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) and plans to announce winners early next year.

escalating RPS

Nevada's RPS, passed into law in 2001, requires investor owned utilities to buy 2% of their retail sales from wind, solar, geothermal or biomass resources every other year and to slowly escalate these purchases until they reach 15% by 2015.

Ely Wind is one of six contracts Sierra awarded to renewable energy developers in December 2002 (Windpower Monthly, January 2003). The two wind projects and four geothermal projects have a combined capacity of 227 MW. All projects must be online by the third quarter of 2005 to meet the 2005-06 RPS mandate. Austin-based Cielo Wind Power's 80 MW Desert Queen project, located on US Bureau of Land Management property in southern Nevada, was the other successful wind bid. To be completed in 2004, it will be Nevada's first wind project.