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Wyoming firm plans small wind farm  

While the big boys wait for ways to send massive amounts of electricity downstate, a Wyoming company is working to put more wind turbines in the Panhandle sky.

Nacel Energy announced Wednesday it will build a 20-megawatt wind farm north of Amarillo. The farm will be called Blue Creek. It pursues what it calls a community wind program of small installations with local investment.

“If you come in and put in 200 turbines, you have an impact on even the landscape,” said Murray Fleming, director of investor services at Nacel. “Our spacings are larger, and we’re only putting in eight to 12 turbines per cluster.”

One megawatt of electricity can power from 250 to 300 average homes.

Having smaller projects also makes accessing the transmission lines of the electrical grid easier.

“With our size, we can often take existing infrastructure and tie in,” Fleming said.

John Deere Wind Energy also has been pursuing community wind projects, putting in 10-megawatt facilities in Moore, Sherman and Carson counties and two larger farms in the same area. The difference is John Deere owns most of the projects and provides financing.

Nacel aids in fundraising by helping turn federal tax credits into cash. That involves selling the credits that will come after the project begins production.

Startup wind companies don’t always have enough income to use the tax credits, so they can sell them to larger companies or take on a partner that can use them, said Stuart Schaffer, chairman of the Global Projects Group at the Houston law firm Baker Botts.

This provides funds to get the wind farm going.

Fleming declined to give specifics about the cost of Nacel’s project, citing federal laws restraining publicly traded companies, but industry estimates range up to $2 million per turbine.

He also declined to be specific about the Blue Creek wind farm’s future location.

“We’re actually trying to tie up some more land,” Fleming said.

Nacel has yet to nail down a purchaser for the power from the facility.

“Probably the access to transmission would be Southwestern Public Service,” Fleming said. “But the final destination is really up for grabs.”

The publicly traded company has a goal of creating 80 megawatts of production in 36 months, according to its Web site.

By Kevin Welch

Amarillo Globe-News

20 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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