Gov. Bill Ritter announces new wind farm partnership between Tri-State and Duke Energy
Tri-State Generation, the supplier of electricity for 44 electric cooperatives in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Nebraska announced Monday it will purchase the power generated at a new 51-megawatt wind farm to be constructed in eastern Colorado. Owned and operated by Duke Energy, the project is the first large wind power deal for Tri-State, based in suburban Denver.
The 34-turbine, 51-megawatt Kit Carson wind farm is expected to be completed by the end of 2010. Tri-State said about 150 people will be needed to build it and ultimately four to eight full-time technicians will maintain it.
"This is another important step forward for Colorado's New Energy Economy and will be a boon for the Eastern Plains, which are blessed with rich and abundant wind resources," said Colorado Governor Bill Ritter at a ceremony on the steps of the State House on Monday. "I congratulate Tri-State and Duke Energy for taking this innovative step forward and helping Colorado to continue building our New Energy Economy."
The co-ops that purchase Tri-State's power provide service to about one million people on farms and ranches as well as in small towns and exurban neighborhoods like my own.
Despite the strong wind energy resource throughout much of Tri-State's service area, the company has been reluctant to add new wind capacity to their grid. But a law passed by voters and later toughened by lawmakers will require Tri-State to get 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2010. Currently 72 percent of Tri-State's power comes from coal and just one percent of comes from wind and solar, although power from the new wind farm and a solar plant planned for Cimarron, N.M. will grow that number to 3 percent. By contrast, the state's largest utility, Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy, gets 10 percent of its power from renewable resources.
Tri-State, a partner in a controversial plan to build a new coal-fired power plant in Kansas, has come under some criticism from environmental and member groups for not moving quickly enough to expand its renewable energy portfolio. As a result, Colorado regulators are also considering increasing oversight over Tri-State's plans for future power generation.
Tri-State executive vice president and general manager Ken Anderson said the company is also looking at adding geothermal sources of energy and producing solar energy at its existing coal plants.
Anderson called the new Kit Carson Wind Power Project “a small step in the right direction” and added, “I do appreciate the governor’s willingness to have patience with us.”
Colorado already has 12 wind farms, most of which produce power for Xcel Energy.
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