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King size project in Texas

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The Texas wind rush is skyrocketing with an order last month for the biggest wind project ever -- 208 MW of turbines each rated at 1.3 MW to be supplied by Bonus of Denmark. Power from the $120 million King Mountain Wind Ranch will be bought by Reliant Energy Renewables Inc, a new affiliate of the Texas energy giant Reliant Energy, which has taken a strikingly deep plunge into wind power with the announcement on August 24. The company, based in Houston with annual revenues of $20 billion, will also be buying electricity from methane conversion plants at 12 existing landfill sites in Texas.

The 160 wind turbines will be built and operated by Texas developer Cielo Wind Power LLC and British Renewable Energy Systems, a subsidiary of the large McAlpine construction group. Bonus, a small but long established wind company, last sold turbines to the American market in the mid-1980s. The wind plant is being sited on King Mountain near McCamey, 110 kilometres (70 miles) south of Odessa. McCamey is the site of FPL Energy's existing 75 MW wind plant of NEG Micon turbines and close to a new 160 MW FPL project to use Vestas turbines for Dallas energy company TXU (Windpower Monthly, August 2000).

Reliant intends to start buying electricity from King Mountain by the fourth quarter of 2001. Construction will start this fall. The company already buys 22 MW of wind from the 30 MW Culberson County plant of Zond turbines installed in the first half of last year in the same general area in far west Texas. Power from King Mountain will be sold to the state's power grid, rural electric co-operatives and other retailers after the Texas energy market is opened, the company says.

The wind rush in Texas is fuelled by: a deregulation bill signed into law last year which mandates a 2000 MW renewables portfolio standard for about 3% of renewables in the Texas supply portfolio by 2009 (Windpower Monthly, February 2000); by the risk that wind's federal Production Tax Credit will expire at the end of next year; and by high natural gas prices which are at an all-time record.

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