Wind plant a kick start to boosting economic development in rural Illinois

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The Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs has awarded a $2.75 million grant to wind project developer Navitas Energy with the aim of encouraging economic development in rural Illinois. Navitas, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is planning a 50 MW wind plant at Mendota Hills, about 100 miles west of Chicago. The money comes from the state's $56 million Renewable Energy Resources Trust Fund. Navitas will strip the green attributes, valued at $0.01 to $0.015/kWh, from the electricity generated by the wind farm and sell these to Illinois retail customers through green power marketers in the state, says the company's Greg Jaunich. The electricity will be sold to Illinois utility Commonwealth Edison for a price which reflects the costs avoided by the utility in not having to get the power elsewhere, around $0.03/kWh. Jaunich says the power purchase price, along with the grant and the value of the green attributes, are all needed to make the project viable. The Illinois wind resource is much less than that at Minnesota's Buffalo Ridge, where most of Navitas Energy's turbines are located. Spanish wind giant Gamesa Energia and Navitas announced a partnership in May (Windpower Monthly, June 2002). Gamesa may eventually build a turbine manufacturing facility in the Midwest, but Jaunich says Navitas will likely use 28 of Gamesa's 1.8 MW turbines -- all built in Spain -- for the Mendota Hills project.

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