Electric Coops agree to deal that adds wind energy to their supply

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 52 views 

Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC) announced Tuesday (Nov. 25) that it plans to add 150 megawatts of potential “green power” to its energy portfolio after reaching a long-term purchase agreement with an Oklahoma wind producer.

The deal with The Origin Wind Farm located in Murray and Carter counties in southeast Oklahoma will enhance the Arkansas cooperative’s long-term commitment to “generation diversity,” said Duane Highley, president and CEO of AECC.

“With the addition of this wind energy, AECC has 201 megawatts of wind energy in its generation assets,” Highley said. “AECC has access to more than 459 megawatts of energy via hydroelectric generating stations and power purchase agreements in addition to our baseload assets. We continue to explore energy options to provide the 500,000 electric cooperative members in Arkansas with reliable, affordable energy.”

The Origin Wind Farm is owned by the North American subsidiary of the Enel Group, the Europe-based conglomerate that mainly focuses on energy generation from renewables sources. Enel operates some 750 plants in 16 countries across Europe and North America.

Enel’s installed capacity amounts to about 8,900 megawatts of wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal and biomass, company officials said. The global green energy supplier has announced plans to up its installed capacity to 13,400 megawatts by 2018, with a forecasted generation of about 45 billion kilowatts.

The Origin Wind Farm’s expected output from the 75 turbines on the 17,600 acre Oklahoma wind farm is 650,000 megawatt-hours, approximately enough energy to serve 50,000 homes. AECC will be the sole recipient of that power generation.

The Arkansas cooperative also has a long-term power purchase agreement with BP and Sempra U.S. Gas and Power for 51 megawatts from the Flat Ridge 2 South Wind Farm in Kansas.

“AECC has a diverse mix of energy including coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, biomass and wind to shield our members from potential spikes in generation fuel costs,” said Andrew Lachowsky, vice president of planning, rates and market operations for AECC. “The cooperative also works to secure the lowest cost power via the wholesale energy markets.”

Little Rock-based AECC said its agreement with Enel’s Oklahoma wind farm was made possible through the National Renewables Cooperative Organization (NRCO), which enables cooperatives nationwide to pool the ownership and benefits of renewable resources. The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives across the state.