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Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association Inc. has entered into a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources for a 150 MW wind power generating facility to be constructed in eastern Colorado.

Under the agreement, Tri-State will purchase the entire output and associated environmental attributes of the Carousel Wind Farm. Tri-State says that when the project begins commercial operation, the wind farm will provide electricity to the company's 44 member cooperatives across Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.

"This was a timely and cost-effective opportunity for us to diversify our generation fleet and deepen our expertise in the challenging area of integrating variable energy resources," says Brad Nebergall, Tri-State's senior vice president.

A NextEra Energy Resources subsidiary will construct, own and operate the Carousel Wind Farm. The project will interconnect to existing Tri-State transmission facilities in the Burlington, Colo., area and is possible only because of planned transmission upgrades in the area, according to Tri-State. The upgrades have been in the planning process since 2010 and are expected to be completed in 2016.

"Given existing transmission constraints in eastern Colorado, one of the important factors in this agreement with NextEra was having the project completed at the same time as those system upgrades," explains Nebergall. "We can't reliably purchase and deliver the output from Carousel to our member systems without the appropriate transmission infrastructure."

The Carousel Wind Farm agreement was the result of a solicitation for renewable resources issued by Tri-State in early 2013, months before the Colorado legislature approved a new mandate doubling the renewable standard for the state's rural electric cooperatives. Although the project will assist the association to meet that mandate, as well as a renewable energy standard in place in New Mexico, Tri-State notes that it believes such mandates are unnecessary and that the not-for-profit cooperative's resource decisions should be directed by its democratically elected board. Today, the company says renewable resources generate approximately 23% of the energy that Tri-State provides its member systems.

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