February 1, 2006 | Electric co-ops agree to buy power from Missouri's first wind farm
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Plans for Missouri’s first utility-scale wind farm were announced Jan. 31 during a ceremony in Jefferson City. Associated Electric Cooperative Inc. will purchase power produced from the 50-megawatt wind farm being developed by Wind Capital Group and John Deere Wind Energy.
“Associated Electric Cooperative is committed to providing affordable, renewable energy options to our members. We are particularly pleased that the wind energy we are purchasing is harvested in our service area and that this investment will be staying here in our own communities,” said Jim Jura, CEO and general manager of AECI.
“Adding wind turbines to the coal, natural gas, oil, hydropower and biomass generating resources we already use will help us improve our ability to fulfill our mission of providing reliable, low-cost electricity to rural electric cooperative members,” Jura said.
AECI member cooperatives’ loads continue to grow, requiring the cooperative to add both year-round generation and peaking power for higher-load periods. Wind turbines will provide an intermittent, green supplemental power supply for member systems. AECI also has proposed a 660-megawatt coal plant near Norborne, Mo., to meet member systems’ daily, round-the-clock power supply needs. This plant, because of its environmental controls, efficient technology and choice of coal for fuel, will provide a clean, affordable year-round power supply for member systems.
The wind energy project, located near King City, Mo., will be named “Bluegrass Ridge” in tribute to the farming community’s historic role in bluegrass seed harvesting. Project financing is being provided by John Deere Wind Energy, based in Johnston, Iowa, a unit of Deere & Company.
“John Deere is excited to be a part of Missouri’s first wind project and to be making an investment that benefits the communities where our customers live,” said David Drescher, vice president of John Deere Wind Energy.
When completed, the project will consist of 24, Suzlon S-88 turbines, and will produce enough power for up to 30,000 homes. AECI will purchase and distribute the electricity to 51 member distribution cooperatives that serve more than 800,000 customers. Construction is expected to begin in early summer with at least 16 turbines operational by the end of 2006.
“Wind is a clean, renewable source of affordable electricity, which has the added benefit of strengthening rural communities and helping Missouri farmers,” said Tom Carnahan, the project developer and president of Wind Capital Group. “I am very proud to be working with Missouri’s electric cooperatives and John Deere Wind Energy to bring this first project to our state.”
“This is an excellent example of a project that will benefit rural counties, schools and farmers while at the same time proving the value of an untapped, renewable energy resource for the state of Missouri,” said Sen. David Klindt of Bethany. “I am excited to be part of this pioneer project.”
Adds Rep. Jim Guest of King City, “Sometimes we consider the wind a curse or a blessing depending on the time of year. But we are definitely going to start looking at it as a blessing when it blows through there now.”
The impact on the local economy could be significant. Farmers in the project area will have the opportunity to receive annual lease payments and the area could also see job creation, local investment, tourism and an expanded tax base.
“My family has been farming this ground for generations and now we have a new crop that doesn’t interfere with the rest of the farm operations, said Michael Waltemath, a local farmer who expects to host several turbines on his farm. “Acre for acre, wind will be the most profitable crop we harvest, not to mention what it will do for the local schools. We’re really looking forward to all the new activity.”
Associated Electric Cooperative Inc. is owned by and provides wholesale power to six regional and 51 local electric cooperative systems in Missouri, northeast Oklahoma and southeast Iowa that serve more than 800,000 customers. AECI’s mission is to provide an economical and reliable power supply and support services to its members with the vision of being the nation’s lowest-cost wholesale power supplier. AECI is a Touchstone Energy Cooperative.
Electric cooperative leaders joined Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt, state legislators, the director of the Department of Natural Resources and wind energy developers Jan. 31 in the capitol to announce and sign a resolution to work together to construct and operate the state’s first utility-scale wind farm. Attending the signing ceremony are, seated, from left, David Drescher, vice president, John Deere Wind Energy; Gov. Matt Blunt; O.B. Clark, president, Associated Electric Cooperative Inc.; and Tom Carnahan, president, Wind Capital Group. Standing, from left, are Barry Hart, executive vice president and chief executive officer, Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives; Leif Anderson, vice president, Suzlon Wind Energy Corp.; Rep. Rex Rector; Sen. David Klindt; Doyle Childers, director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources; Rep. Jim Guest; Rep. Brad Lager; and Jim Jura, CEO and general manager, Associated Electric Cooperative Inc.
Associated Electric Cooperative CEO and General Manager Jim Jura, center, announces AECI has agreed to buy the power generated by the state’s first utility-scale wind farm for its member electric cooperatives during a presentation Jan. 31 at the capitol. Attending are, from left, Tom Carnahan, Wind Capital Group; Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder; O.B. Clark, president, Associated Electric Cooperative Inc.; Sen. David Klindt; Don McQuitty, chief executive officer and general manager of NW Electric Power Cooperative Inc.; and Rep. Jim Guest.
Released: 1 February 2006