The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has granted siting approval of final routes and substations for Ameren Transmission Co. of Illinois (ATXI) to build the nearly 400-mile-long Illinois Rivers electric transmission project.
“[The] action by the ICC is welcome news for Illinois,” says Maureen Borkowski, chairman, president and CEO of ATXI. “This project will benefit the state’s economy, create jobs and provide Illinois electricity customers greater access to a variety of low-cost energy sources, including wind energy.”
Last August, the ICC approved the need for the project and some of the project routes and substations. The 345,000-volt transmission line, using steel poles with a single shaft, will run from Palmyra, Mo., crossing the Mississippi River at Quincy. It will then run east past Meredosia, Pawnee, Pana, Mt. Zion and Kansas, ending at Sugar Creek, Ind., with additional lines running from Meredosia to Ipava and between the Sidney and Rising substations near Champaign. The project previously received approvals from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc.
Substation construction is already under way on the $1.1 billion Illinois Rivers project, and line construction is expected to commence later this year.
The Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) has signed off on the 115 MW Bull Creek wind farm, located on private land approximately 20 km northeast of Provost.
With the AUC approval in place, project developer BluEarth Renewables Inc. says it plans to apply for municipal development permits and continue to work on securing additional power purchase agreements.
“Wind turbines have a strong track record of being good neighbors in rural Alberta communities for over 20 years. There are over 760 wind turbines operating in Alberta today, with more under construction,” says Kent Brown, president and CEO of BluEarth. “As we move forward with this project, BluEarth is committed to carrying on that legacy and is looking forward to being a good neighbor to area residents for years to come.”
Following Ontario Ruling
Construction work on the 270 MW K2 Wind Power Project in Ontario is slated to begin in the first quarter of this year. According to project partners Samsung, Pattern Energy and Capital Power, this announcement comes after a ruling by the Environmental Review Tribunal, which dismissed an appeal of K2 Wind’s renewable energy approval.
“We conduct a great deal of preparation for our projects, working with the community to build the best project possible – and we’re pleased the tribunal agreed with that position,” comments Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Development.
Paul Wendelgass, project lead for Capital Power, adds, “This decision enables K2 Wind to invest millions of dollars into the community in the form of property taxes, community benefits, landowner lease payments, local contracting and employment.”
Specifically, the project partners say over 1,000 workers from across southwestern Ontario will be involved in the manufacturing and assembly of the project’s 140 Siemens wind turbines, site construction and operations. Once in operation, they expect K2 Wind to inject between $5 million and $6 million in direct spending into the local economy annually.
The wind farm is scheduled to enter commercial operation in the second half of 2015, at which time the project’s output will be sold to the Ontario Power Authority.
TPI, Gamesa Ink
TPI Composites has signed a long-term agreement with Gamesa to supply blades for its G114 wind turbine from TPI’s revamped factory in Juarez, Mexico. Gamesa will use these blades to serve wind projects in the U.S. and Mexico, as well as for export to other emerging regional markets.
Borja Negro, CEO of Gamesa North America, says, “We are excited to be partnering with TPI to provide world-class wind blades to our regional target markets. TPI’s quality and process rigor, as well as its strong record of delivering many thousands of reliable blades, make TPI an excellent partner for Gamesa.”
TPI’s Juarez factory was formerly operated as a joint venture under the name of VienTek and is now 100% owned by TPI and serving multiple customers. TPI announced in December 2013 that it was reopening the plant and has begun rehiring about 600 former VienTek employees.
“It is great for TPI to complement our northern midwestern location in Newton, Iowa, with a plant site on the Texas-Mexico border that can cost-effectively serve a broader market,” notes Steve Lockard, president and CEO of TPI Composites.
Clean Line Names
Clean Line Energy has announced an agreement designating Iowa-based manufacturer Sabre Tubular Structures, a division of Sabre Industries Inc., as a preferred supplier of transmission structures for the Rock Island Clean Line transmission project.
The Rock Island project is an approximately 500-mile overhead, direct-current line that could deliver up to 3.5 GW of wind power from northwest Iowa and the surrounding region to communities in Illinois and other states to the East.
Under the agreement, Sabre’s Iowa facilities will produce the transmission structures, and the company will work to establish a supplier base within the project area – primarily Iowa and Illinois – to supply as much raw material as possible from local companies.
“Iowa is a proven leader in the wind energy industry,” says Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority. “The Rock Island Clean Line project, along with leading Iowa manufacturers like Sabre, is enabling one of our state’s most abundant resources – wind – to go to market, thus creating jobs and stimulating our economy.”
Vestas has secured a seven-year service and maintenance renewal from TransAlta for 50 V90-3.0 MW wind turbines at the Kent Hills wind power plant in New Brunswick. The project was built in two phases: The first 96 MW portion came online in 2008, and the second phase was commissioned in 2010.
“This contract extension demonstrates our strong relationship with Canada’s largest investor-owned renewable energy provider,” says Chris Brown, president of Vestas’ sales and service division in Canada and the U.S. “We look forward to helping TransAlta continue to get the best possible return on their investment through 2020.”
Vestas says the service agreement features the Active Output Management (AOM) 5000 offering, an energy-based availability guarantee. This service option includes the VestasOnline surveillance system, which remotely controls and monitors the turbines and is designed to predict potential maintenance issues, the company adds.
In other company news, Vestas notes it installed its first wind turbine in Canada in 1997 and has since supplied more than 1,600 turbines totaling 2.7 GW in the country.
Vestas has signed an agreement to supply seven of its V90-3.0 MW wind turbines for the Tilawind wind power plant in Costa Rica. Tilawind Corp., a special-purpose company owned by Costa Rican corporation New Tessela and developer Gruman Resources, placed the order.
Vestas says it will begin delivery of the turbines in the third quarter of this year, and the company expects the project to be commissioned in the fourth quarter. The contract for the Tilawind wind power plant comprises delivery and commissioning of the turbines, a VestasOnline Business SCADA system, as well as a 10-year AOM 5000 service agreement.
On the heels of news that Alstom entered a deal to supply five turbines for Deepwater Wind’s Block Island Wind Farm, Fred. Olsen Windcarrier’s jack-up vessel Bold Tern has been contracted to perform installation work for the offshore demonstration project.
The 30 MW wind farm is planned off the coast of Block Island, R.I. Under the contract, installation is slated to begin in the third quarter of 2016 and last 65 days, plus extensions for up to 48 days. Most of the blade units for the Alstom Haliade 150-6 MW offshore turbines have already been manufactured and are expected to be delivered in April.
Texas Firm Begins
First Project Phase
New Generation Power Texas LLC (NGP Texas) has begun the first phase of construction on a 400 MW wind farm. The newly formed subsidiary of Chicago-based New Generation Power notes it started construction on Dec. 11, 2013, making the project eligible for the production tax credit.
Located just northwest of Dallas, in Haskell County, the project is estimated to cost between $650 million and $700 million and will be built out in two phases. Rosendin Electric Inc. is serving as the prime engineering, procurement and construction contractor on the project, and AUI Contractors will serve as the civil and foundation sub-contractor. NGP expects to complete construction of both phases by the end of 2015.
Mortenson To Build
Minneapolis-based Mortenson Construction has announced it was recently selected by investor-owned utility Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. (OG&E) to build the Woodward EHV Thistle transmission line project. The project will start at the Woodward EHV District Substation, 12 miles south of Woodward, Okla., and run to the Oklahoma/Kansas border about two miles southeast of Hardtner, Kan.
“OG&E is pleased to have Mortenson Construction working on the Woodward-to-Thistle project,” says Phil Crissup, OG&E’s vice president of utility technical support. “This transmission line is essential to delivering Oklahoma’s wind potential and improving regional electric system capacity and reliability.”
Mortenson says all aspects of construction are currently under way, and construction is expected to be completed in September.
For Texas Project
Boston-based developer First Wind has obtained $206 million in financing for its first renewable energy project in Texas. Now that financing is closed on Route 66 Wind, located in Armstrong and Carson counties, First Wind says it will continue engineering and construction activities on the 150 MW project.
First Wind subsidiary Route 66 Wind Power LLC closed on the financing agreement, with Morgan Stanley and Santander acting as joint lead arrangers and Morgan Stanley serving as the administrative agent. The two have also committed tax equity into the deal. Morgan Stanley Commodities is providing a long-term Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) power hedge, and BayernLB is providing term debt financing for the project.
Construction work began on the project in late 2013, thus allowing it to qualify for the federal wind energy production tax credit, First Wind notes. M.A. Mortenson is acting as the prime contractor, and Vestas will supply 75 V110 turbines with a capacity of 2 MW each to the project. The developer says it expects Route 66 Wind to deliver power to ERCOT power markets through the recently completed Competitive Renewable Energy Zone transmission system.
First Wind owns and operates wind projects in Maine, Vermont, New York, Utah, Washington and Hawaii.
Brahms Wind Project
Wind developer BayWa r.e. Wind LLC has placed its 19.8 MW Brahms project in service.
Located in Curry County, N.M., the project comprises 12 units of 1.65 MW Vestas V82 turbines. The company says commissioning occurred four months after construction began.
In addition, BayWa notes it is preparing its next New Mexico project for construction later this year.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) has approved cost recovery for three wind power purchase agreements recently signed by Public Service Co. of Oklahoma (PSO).
The contracts, totaling 600 MW, are for NextEra Energy Resources’ Seiling Wind project, TradeWind Energy’s Goodwell Wind project and Apex Clean Energy’s Balko Wind project.
According to PSO, estimates show the agreements will reduce customer costs by $53 million in the first year, with annual savings growing over the 20-year length of the contracts.
“These contracts were based on extraordinary pricing opportunities that will provide substantial savings for our customers,” says Stuart Solomon, PSO president and chief operating officer. “Another benefit is the diversity that an additional 600 MW of Oklahoma wind energy will bring to our fuel mix.”
PSO issued a request for proposals in June 2013 seeking up to 200 MW of new wind energy resources. The utility says the decision to contract for an additional 400 MW was based on all-time-low prices for wind power. When deliveries of energy from the three new wind contracts commence in 2016, PSO’s total wind under contract will be 1.137 GW.
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. Today, Tri-State says renewable resources generate approximately 23% of the energy that Tri-State provides its member systems.
Cape Wind Names
Bladt Industries A/S and the German company EEW Special Pipe Constructions GmbH (EEW SPC) recently signed a contract to supply the foundations for the 468 MW Cape Wind offshore project, located off the coast of Nantucket Island.
Bladt Industries and EEW SPC note they have worked closely together in the past to manufacture foundations across Europe, many of which were for Siemens 3.6 MW wind turbines – the same type that will be used for the Cape Wind project.
In total, 101 monopiles and transition pieces will be manufactured and shipped to the harbor of New Bedford, Mass. The monopiles will be produced at EEW’s facilities in Rostock, Germany, and the transition pieces will be made at Bladt Industries’ facilities in Aalborg, Denmark. Production will start in January 2015.
In addition, the companies note they are looking forward to contributing to the success of what could be the first offshore wind farm in the U.S. and hope that this will be the start of a new market.
Iowa Wind Project
NJR Clean Energy Ventures (NJRCEV), the unregulated distributed power subsidiary of New Jersey Resources (NJR), has agreed to acquire its second wind project. The 20 MW Carroll Area wind farm will be located on 1,100 acres of rural agricultural land in Carroll County, Iowa, approximately 65 miles northwest of Des Moines.
NJRCEV says it will invest approximately $42 million to construct, own and operate the wind farm. The company agreed to acquire the shovel-ready project from OwnEnergy Inc., a developer of midsize and community wind projects. It will be NJRCEV’s second wind farm purchased from OwnEnergy; the first was the Montana-based Two Dot wind farm in 2013. NJRCEV maintains an approximate 19% ownership position in OwnEnergy and holds an option to purchase projects that fit its investment profile.
The energy produced at the Carroll Area wind farm, as well as the renewable attributes, will be sold through a 25-year power purchase agreement with utility company MidAmerican Energy. Additionally, NJRCEV says it expects the wind farm to qualify for federal production tax credits.
NJRCEV will engage Mortenson Construction for the engineering, procurement and construction of the project. The wind farm is slated to be operational by spring 2015.
EDPR Installs GE’s
EDP Renewables (EDPR) will use GE’s Wind PowerUp software-enabled platform to help increase the power output of 402 GE 1.5-77 wind turbines located at five U.S. wind farms.
According to GE, EDPR is now expected to generate more than 420,000 MWh of additional energy each year. The wind farms that will be installing PowerUp are the Blue Canyon V wind farm in Oklahoma; the Meadow Lake III wind farm in Indiana; and the Top Crop I, Top Crop II and Railsplitter wind farms in Illinois.
“At EDPR, we like to be a leader in innovation and explore creative ways to make the most of our units, and collaborating with GE has been a win-win for us,” says Brian Hayes, executive vice president of EDPR.
Andy Holt, general manager of GE’s renewable energy projects and services organization, adds, “GE’s PowerUp platform allows EDPR to realize almost immediate benefits to their bottom line input today and also allows us to incorporate new PowerUp technologies as they are developed.”
wpd Starts Building
Two Ontario Projects
Germany-based developer wpd has started construction of the Springwood and Whittington wind power projects in southern Ontario. The two projects will total 14.35 MW in capacity and feature seven MM92 turbines from Senvion, formerly known as REpower.
As of early February, access roads and foundation pits had been completed in line with the construction schedule. Turbine installation is slated for this summer, with the commissioning of both projects scheduled for the fall.
“The implementation of our first projects in Canada is a great success story for the local staff and also a significant milestone for the entire wpd group,” says Hartmut Brosamle, a wpd board member. “Active in Canada since 2007, we are now harvesting the fruits of diligent work in a challenging market.”
The company says another four projects with a total capacity of more than 90 MW, including the 60 MW White Pines project, are being advanced by a local team of 15 staff based at wpd’s Mississauga office. These projects have all been awarded a feed-in tariff contract by the Ontario Power Authority and are expected to go online within the next couple of years.
ALLETE Clean Energy, a subsidiary of ALLETE Inc., has finalized the purchase of operating wind farms in Lake Benton, Minn; Storm Lake, Iowa; and Condon, Ore., from The AES Corp. for $27 million.
All three wind farms – with a total output of 231 MW – have power purchase agreements in place for their entire electric output. Since the acquisition agreement was announced in November 2013, customary closing conditions have been met, including approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, ALLETE says.
“With this acquisition, ALLETE Clean Energy will establish core infrastructure that will allow us to expand to other wind or similar clean energy projects,” comments Eric Norberg, president of ALLETE Clean Energy. “It’s a significant and diverse first step in the implementation of new energy-centric projects.”
Most of the current AES employees who operate and maintain the three wind farms have opted to join ALLETE Clean Energy. The three facilities will be overseen by Dave Leveille, who was named director of asset management for ALLETE Clean Energy at the beginning of this year.
In November 2013, ALLETE Clean Energy also signed an option agreement to acquire a fourth wind farm – the 101 MW Armenia Mountain, Penn., project – from AES in mid-2015.
Grain Belt Express
Inks Supplier Deal
Clean Line Energy Partners has announced agreements to source products and services from Missouri-based manufacturers ABB Inc., General Cable and Hubbell Power Systems Inc. (HPS) for its Grain Belt Express Clean Line project.
The Grain Belt project is an approximately 750-mile overhead, direct-current transmission line that will deliver up to 3.5 GW of renewable power from Kansas to communities and businesses in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and states farther east. Clean Line says ABB, General Cable and HPS employ a total of nearly 1,000 Missourians, and the project represents an approximately $500 million investment in Missouri.
Clean Line designated ABB in 2013 as the preferred supplier to manufacture alternating-current transformers for the Grain Belt Express transmission collector system, where new wind farms will connect to the project in Kansas. ABB plans to manufacture the transformers at its St. Louis facility.
General Cable will manufacture the steel core for the transmission line conductor and manage ongoing inventory and logistics at its Sedalia, Mo., facility. Clean Line says General Cable supports its goal of developing a local supply chain and will purchase aluminum rod, made in Missouri, for the Grain Belt Express conductor by partnering with Noranda Aluminum.
HPS has been designated as the preferred supplier of insulators and hardware for the Grain Belt project. HPS will manufacture the hardware and the core of the polymer insulators at its Centralia, Mo., facility and establish a supplier base within the project area to source raw material from local businesses, including companies in Illinois and Indiana, according to Clean Line. To support Grain Belt Express, HPS will invest over $9 million in its Centralia plant.
“Clean Line Energy is committed to sourcing as many of the needed materials as possible from local companies in the Grain Belt Express project area,” says Clean Line President Michael Skelly, adding, “We believe it is increasingly important to invest in energy infrastructure that will contribute to local economies and create new jobs in communities across Missouri and the region.”
Siemens Wins Texas
Siemens has won an order to supply 28 of its SWT-2.3-108 wind turbines to the Windthorst-2 wind power project in Windthorst, Texas.
The 67.6 MW wind farm is expected to commence commercial operation this fall, and Siemens has also signed a service agreement that the company says will help ensure the reliability, availability and performance of the turbines.
A majority interest in the project was recently sold to a fund managed by BlackRock. OwnEnergy will maintain a minority ownership interest and manage the Winthorst-2 project’s construction.
“We look forward to working with BlackRock and OwnEnergy on this project as they provide clean, renewable energy to the citizens of Texas,” says Mark Albenze, CEO of Siemens Energy’s Wind Power Americas business. “The equipment supplied by Siemens for this project will be manufactured in the U.S. by our skilled labor force in Iowa and Kansas. This order demonstrates that the production tax credit continues to provide and support manufacturing and constructions jobs in the U.S.”
According to Siemens, the project will also create 95 to 125 temporary construction jobs and five to seven long-term positions during the operation of the wind farm. w
Projects & Contracts
Illinois Commission Green-Lights Line
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