The Alexander Wind Project in Rush County is beating the odds that face proposed wind energy projects, and will be going online very soon. That’s good news for the landowners who have leased the land where the turbines have been erected, and it’s good news for the environment, as green-centric corporations, like Yahoo! Inc., opt for ways to offset their power consumption using renewable energy sources. Its yet another way rural communities make a measurable difference in the lives of those who live, work, and do business in metropolitan areas around the world.
Beating the odds
Hundreds of proposals have been submitted over the years to the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) for wind energy projects of varied sizes, but a large majority of the proposals are withdrawn early on. That was the fate of two Barton County projects that were proposed in 2009, as well as a couple Pawnee County projects from the same time period. Rush County has had 12 projects proposed in the past five years.
Of these, so far only the 48.3 megawatt capacity Alexander Wind Project is fully operational. Two other projects in Rush County are in the Facility Study stage with SPP.
The 7,000 acre Alexander Wind Project was developed by Own Energy of Brooklyn, N.Y., and is now owned by New Jersey Resources, which invested $85 million to construct, own and operate the project. This week, the company submitted an application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for market-based rate authority and accompanying tariff, as well as blanket authority of future issuances of securities and assumptions of liability.
Marketing the energy
Own Energy applied for permits for 33 turbines in 2011, but a total of 21 Siemens turbines have been installed. It qualified for production tax credit under the 2013 I.R.S. Safe Harbor provision. The credits are a federal incentive that provides financial support for the development of renewable energy facilities. Later, the sale of the project to New Jersey Resources went through, and Own Energy continued to market the energy through the sale of corporate Power Purchase Agreements (PPA)
According to the New Jersey Resources corporate website, in February of 2014, the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities signed a PPA to purchase 25 MW of power from the project for 20 years. The KCBPU serves 69,000 electricity customers in Wyandot County.
An additional 15 MW will be purchased by internet giant Yahoo! Inc., based in California. It will be used it to offset energy use by the company in the Great Plains area. Its just a part of the overall strategy the company is employing to continue to decrease its carbon footprint even while the company continues to grow past 1 billion users worldwide. Yahoo! also uses on-site energy production, such as solid oxide fuel cells, and has designed buildings that use outside air to cool it’s servers, trademarked the Yahoo Compute Coop.
Construction of the Rush County wind farm began in 2014, and turbine delivery is scheduled for late summer of this year. The wind farm is on target to begin producing power by November of this year.
Part of the application process includes a public comment period. Any person desiring to intervene or to protest can file a complaint with the FERC by Aug. 5.