November 17, 2007

Company plans wind energy project near Jackpot

Sierra Pacific Resources and Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. said Thursday they’re working on an agreement to jointly develop and operate a large wind-energy project in Elko County and southern Idaho.

Located on about 9,000 acres of federal, state and private lands – including land less than 10 miles west of Jackpot – the proposed China Mountain project could generate more than 200 megawatts of electricity. That is enough power to serve approximately 65,000 residences, said Adam Grant, a spokesman for Sierra Pacific Resources.

The project would use state-of-the-art, large-scale wind turbines to produce electricity going into Sierra Pacific Resources’ power grid.

The agreement between Nevada-based Sierra Pacific and RES Americas, part of the Britain-based Sir Roger McAlpine Group, would be subject to approval by the state Public Utilities Commission.

The project must go through an environmental review process, in line with federal law. A notice for preparation of an environmental impact statement is expected in early 2008.

“The area where this project would be located provides the combination of a good wind resource and the relatively gentle terrain needed for construction access,” said Tom Fair, Sierra Pacific Resources executive for renewable energy.

“Preliminary wind resource analyses completed to date have found this site to be favorable for developing a utility scale wind-energy facility.”

Fair said the project would be in close proximity to a transmission line, which could eventually be linked to send power to western and southern Nevada. He said it is difficult to say how much it would cost to construct and develop the project, but a rough estimate would be about $2 million per megawatt.

Elko County Manager Rob Stokes said the majority of this project appears to be in Idaho, but the county is supportive of all wise multiple use of public lands.

“A renewable energy project such as wind power is great,” Stokes said.

RES Americas has been active in the U.S. market since 1997 and has had a role in developing or constructing more than 10 percent of the operating wind projects in the country.

RES Director of Development Scott Piscitello said in a statement, “The combined efforts of our two companies will enable the earlier development and construction of a cost-effective wind energy project that is sensitive to the environment and that brings significant economic benefits to the surrounding communities.”

Sierra Pacific does not currently operate any wind-energy power plants in Nevada.

Elko County may see other alternative energy projects in the future as well.

The T.G. Power LLC company is planning a geothermal electric generation plant on 10 acres in the Spanish Ranch in Elko County. The Elko County Planning Commission approved a conditional use application for this project in September.

Elko Daily Free Press Staff Writer John Sents contributed to this report.


17 November 2007

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