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Wind power advances  

Projects in Kenedy Co. likely to produce power by year’s end

The blades of the wind turbines at Peñascal Wind Farm in Kenedy County are scheduled to start turning and producing power by December. And when they do, they’ll send a welcome jolt to San Antonio.

Oregon-based PPM Energy, the project’s developer, began construction last fall and is doing roadwork and pouring foundations, said PPM spokeswoman Jan Johnson. The wind farm is expected to have 84 turbines capable of generating 2.4 megawatts a year each.

The farm’s annual maximum output of 202 megawatts would be enough to power 40,000 average homes, Johnson said.

More than a quarter of those homes will be in San Antonio. CPS Energy, San Antonio’s municipally owned energy company, signed a 15-year agreement Monday with PPM for 75 megawatts of wind power, enough to power 17,500 homes. The deal was the first one announced by PPM for its Kenedy County project.

CPS already receives 500 megawatts of wind power, 340 megawatts from Cottonwood Creek Wind Farm near Sweetwater and 160 megawatts from Desert Sky Wind Farm near Iraan, both in West Texas. The added wind power allows the San Antonio company to come closer to its goal of achieving renewable energy capacity equivalent to 15 percent of its customers’ peak electrical demand by 2020.

“Our capacity will be at slightly above 12 percent of our 2009 projected peak demand,” said Milton Lee, CPS’ general manager and CEO, in a written statement. “We’re one of only a handful of utility systems across the country that has surpassed the double-digit percentage mark for renewable energy.”

PPM spokeswoman Johnson said the company was marketing the rest of the farm’s power, and was excited about the deal with CPS.

The project has seen opposition. Most recently, the project was the subject of state and federal lawsuits by the Coastal Habitat Alliance, filed in December. The alliance is a coalition of groups opposed to the two wind farms proposed in Kenedy County – the Peñascal Wind Farm on property owned by the John G. Kenedy Jr. Charitable Trust, and one by Australia-based Babcock and Brown Ltd. on property owned by the John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation. The lawsuit filed in state court was dismissed. The federal lawsuit is pending.

PPM’s $440 million project would occupy about 300 acres of surface area, less than 1 percent of the Kenedy Trust’s 192,000 acres, Johnson said. The company has moved the location of the turbines farther south than originally planned, she added.

“We moved the turbines away from some of the lakes and trees to further minimize impact to birds,” Johnson said. “There was definitely effort to responsibly develop the site.”

Babcock and Brown’s $700 million project also began construction last fall. It will erect 118 turbines that are expected to cover a surface area of about 300 acres, said company spokesman Matt Dallas.

The company plans to install turbines in early summer and begin producing wind energy by November, he added. The farm’s annual maximum output is expected to be 283.2 megawatts, enough to power more than 72,000 homes. Babcock and Brown will not seek buyers for its wind energy, but rather will put it on the state’s wholesale market.

By Fanny S. Chirinos

Caller-Times

13 March 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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