Clean Energy Concepts is in the process of damage control after Warren County board member Marvin Hawk said McDonough Power was not informed of a possible fourth windmill on the county’s wind farm.
Originally, meetings between CEC and Prairie Power Incorpoarated, McDonough Power purchases their power from PPI, were meant to stay behind closed doors until a decision was made.
“Everything has changed quite drastically,” said Matt Cumberworth, managing director of Clean Energy Concepts LLC. “We were trying to do it under the radar. We had that agreement (with McDonough Power and PPI).”
Cumberworth said CEC is looking to use either PPI’s or AmeronIP’s substations. However, PPI’s substation, which is adjacent to the wind farm, will require upgrades costing millions of dollars.
Steve Epperson, CEO and president of McDonough Power, said while they have met with CEC, there have been no discussions about where turbines will be located.
“Right now we’re in the investigation stage in terms of figuring out what connections can be made and what will and will not be feasible,” Epperson said. “We’re looking at the feasibility to see if it’s a good thing for our membership. That’s our primary consideration.”
Epperson said they will spend their time finding out what expenses will be involved in a possible agreement after they receive all the information form CEC.
“It’s just something we don’t have enough facts yet to hang our hat and say, ‘Yes, we’ll do that,'” Epperson said. “We’re not anywhere close enough, in terms of just information or the fact finding, to say yes, or whether it’s feasible or not.”
However, Nieman said that while they are interested in purchasing power from the wind farm, they have not made an agreement yet.
“(CEC) can go out and shop to anyone,” Nieman said. “They aren’t obligated to sell to us.”
But Epperson stressed that McDonough Power and PPI are interested in the proposal.
One change CEC is attempting to make to the wind farm is to increase the farm from 20 megawatts to 30 megawatts.
There have also been problems with a neighboring land owner of the county’s farm.
Cumberworth would not go into detail about what the problems were at the time of the interview.
CEC and PPI met last December to discuss possible use of the substation and selling power to PPI.
“We are waiting for a draft proposal from Clean Energy Concepts for purchasing power,” said Greg Nieman, director of administrative services for PPI.
Jolene Willis, executive director of the Western Illinois Economic Development Partnership, said that the federal government, under the Renewable Portfolio Standard, now mandates a certain amount of electrical power must be purchased from renewable sources. Nieman said that while PPI does not fall under the standard, they feel obligated to follow its guidelines.
“We all agree this would be a great idea, we’re just looking at the price per kilowatt per hour,” Epperson said. “We’d like it to be feasible and green, not expensive and green.”
Cumberworth said CEC and PPI are scheduled to meet in February to discuss any possible agreements.
By Stephen Geinosky
4 January 2008
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