United States

United States

Utilities sign up wind just in time

Power plant developer FPL Energy has signed power purchase agreements with two electric utilities in Wisconsin for nearly 30 MW of wind energy by end 2000, just in time to fulfil a state law requiring Wisconsin utilities to build 50 MW of renewable resources. Alliant Energy and Wisconsin Electric Power (WEP) signed September 17, ten year power purchase agreements for 29.7 MW of wind energy from FPL, to be sited near Allenton, about 43 miles (70 kilometres) northwest of Milwaukee.

Alliant will buy 4.5 MW, while WEP has committed to 25.2 MW. Construction begins in March with full operation by December 31, 2000. According to FPL, the entire project will be the largest wind farm east of the Mississippi River, consisting of 33, 900 kW NEG Micon units on 70 metre tubular towers. FPL already uses NEG Micon 750 kW turbines at its 42 MW Cerro Gordo wind farm near Ventura, Iowa, which went into operation May 7. The 900 kW unit is a development of the 750 kW.

More wind in Iowa

Alliant projects the load factor at Allenton will be about 27%, lower than the 33% predicted at Cerro Gordo. The difference, according to Alliant's John Gilman, is the average wind speed, which at the Wisconsin site is about 7.5 m/s, while it is nearly 9 m/s in Iowa. Alliant's contract with FPL at Cerro Gordo is for 25 years. Even though the Allenton contracts with Alliant and WEP extend only ten years, FPL's Steve Dryden says the project life is 25 years. FPL will look at other options for the final 15 years, he adds.

Approval of the project is still needed from Wisconsin Public Service Commission and FPL needs to obtain a conditional use permit from the town of Allenton, but is well into the process of obtaining leases and easements on 24 properties, says Dryden. Landowners will get a one time easement The wind farm helps both utilities fulfil their obligation under Wisconsin's Act 204. The 1998 Act requires Wisconsin utilities to build at least 50 MW of renewable energy by the end of 2000. Alliant's share of the 50 MW is 11 MW and WEP's is 27 MW. Along with its 4.5 MW of wind, Alliant is also buying 6.5 MW of Minergy biomass generation to fulfil its requirements.

Request for 75 MW

WEP has two additional wind turbines near Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and has issued a request for proposals for an addition 75 MW of renewable energy that would take the utility well beyond its Act 204 requirement, according to the utility's Margaret Heffernann. She does not know how much of the resource will be wind, but says WEP is "looking for something that gives the best price for customers." WEP has a green pricing program that allows customers to pay a premium for energy from renewable generation, such as wind power.

Alliant has about one million electric, natural gas and water customers in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Wisconsin Electric has 1.3 million electric and natural gas customers in Wisconsin and Michigan's upper peninsula.

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