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Albuquerque, N.M.-based Sandia National Laboratories and Kirtland Air Force Base may soon share a wind farm that will provide as much as one-third of the electricity used by the two entities.

Sandia's wind energy technology department and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) wind and hydropower technologies program have embarked on a project to determine if such a plant is viable and to build a roughly 30 MW wind farm on the air base. A private company would design, build and operate the farm, and DOE/National Nuclear Security Administration, Sandia and Kirtland would buy the electricity.

A request for information (RFI) was recently placed on a Sandia procurement Web site in an effort to make commercial, utility-scale wind farm developers, owners, operators, energy service companies and financiers aware of the potential opportunity to build a wind farm on the base. The deadline to respond to the RFI and be eligible to compete for the partnership is July 3.

"Usually, private companies build wind farms to sell power to utilities or utilities install wind turbines for their own system use," says project engineer Roger Hill. "Here we are looking for a private company to build a wind plant on federal land for federal [Sandia and Kirtland] consumption."

The initial stage of the project will involve investigating the feasibility of building the farm on federal lands and/or the adjacent Isleta Pueblo. In the next couple of months, Sandia will install a meteorological station on a ridgeline in the Manzano mountains near Albuquerque to measure wind speed and direction. A second meteorological station will follow.

SOURCE: Sandia National Laboratories

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