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SRP to get power from first Arizona wind project  

Salt River Project has agreed to purchase electrical energy from Arizona’s first wind energy farm to be built about 18 miles northwest of Snowflake.

The 20-year contract between SRP and the builder, Oregon-based Iberdrola Renewables, is considered a significant development in the ongoing drive to increase renewable energy sources in Arizona.

Arizona Corporation Commissioner Kris Mayes, who has been critical of SRP as well as Arizona Public Service for using out-of-state renewable electrical power, praised SRP’s decision to purchase the first wind-driven energy produced in the Grand Canyon State.

“This project proves that there is big wind to be tapped in northern Arizona,” said Mayes. “The development of this in-state project will bring with it good jobs, additional revenue and clean energy to Navajo County.”

Mayes said that northern and eastern Arizona has greater wind velocity than the Valley, except during excessive monsoon winds, and future wind farms may eventually be erected in Cochise County and other eastern areas.

“Arizona has the wind. Now let’s use it,” Mayes said.

By Dec. 31, 2009, the wind farm and its rows of approximately 30 swirling wind turbine blades are expected to deliver more than 63 megawatts of energy, enough to serve more than 15,000 homes, SRP said. SRP agreed to purchase 100 percent of electricity generated at the farm just east of State Route 377.

SRP also has the first option to buy additional power from the wind farm, called the Dry Lake Wind Project, if Iberdrola expands the site within three years.

“The Dry Lake Wind Project represents a significant financial investment in Arizona and Navajo County,” Gov. Janet Napolitano said. “It will help increase our renewable energy supplies without using water or adding carbon to the atmosphere.”

Both the Arizona Corporation Commission and the state legislature have encouraged the development of renewable energy sources, including wind projects, in Arizona. Arizona utilities are required by the ACC to produce or procure 15 percent of their total electricity sales from renewable sources by 2025 – including wind, solar, biomass, biogas and landfill gas. By the year 2020, experts predict that, if the utilities comply, an estimated 92 billion pounds of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, will be prevented from entering the atmosphere.

ACC Commissioner Bill Mundell also applauded SRP’s in-state agreement.

“The Dry Lake Wind Project is an important step forward in the diversification of Arizona’s electric generation,” said Mundell. “As the costs of fossil fuels continue to rise, electricity generated by wind, which has zero fuel costs and zero emissions, will lower or stabilize rates in the long run.”

ACC Commissioner Gary Pierce joined the welcoming cheers, adding: “I am happy to see that SRP is using Arizona’s native winds. In this instance, SRP is fortunate that the wind resource is near existing transmission lines.”

SRP serves more than 935,000 electric customers in the Phoenix metro area.

Tony Natale

East Valley Tribune

28 July 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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