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BP may develop mighty wind farm in Northern Arizona  

Credit:  Phoenix Business Journal - by Mike Sunnucks and Patrick O'Grady, www.bizjournals.com 1 July 2011 ~~

Energy giant BP Plc wants to build a mammoth windmill farm on a 43,000-acre site in northwestern Arizona, near the Nevada state line.

BP Wind Energy’s Mohave Wind Farm would be developed on a U.S. Bureau of Land Management parcel 40 miles north of Kingman. It would be the largest in Arizona and one of the largest in the nation, with 283 windmills capable of producing 425 megawatts of renewable energy – nearly twice the output of Abengoa Solar’s Solana Generating Station, under construction near Gila Bend.

BP spokesman Tom Mueller said the wind farm’s development hinges on federal approvals and an environmental impact study, which is expected to be published in the fourth quarter.

“The timing is dependent on completion of permitting activities, including the environmental impact statement, so we don’t have firm timing at this point in time,” said

Mueller, who would not disclose the project’s estimated cost. “We hope to have a draft EIS prepared late this year, with other permitting activity to follow.”

BP is marketing energy that would be produced at the Mohave facility to utilities in Arizona, Nevada, California and other states. Mueller did not comment on whether any purchase agreements had been executed.

The BP project is one of eight tentatively set for construction on about 156,000 acres of BLM land in Northern Arizona. BLM lists all of those projects, however, as being in the testing and monitoring stage. None has been given a development grant, which typically stretches for 30 years.

Testing grants are for three years and are renewable, and all eight of the Arizona projects submitted to BLM are in that stage.

Arizona is not considered a hub for wind energy, partly because of its wind patterns and speed compared with Texas, California and other states. Still, it has drawn some interest from large wind farm developers. If the BP project moves forward, it will be the largest wind project in the state by far.

Spain-based Iberdrola Renewables, which developed the 63-megawatt Dry Lake Wind Project near Holbrook, has been selling that power to Salt River Project. Dry Lake already has a second phase planned that would add 65 megawatts of turbines.

NextEra Energy Resources is planning two wind farms in Arizona. Its Perrin Ranch Wind LLC is a 99.2-megawatt facility to be built near Williams, with power going to Arizona Public Service Co. Power from its Yavapai Wind Project, a 99.2-megawatt project to be built near Seligman, is set to go to SRP.

BP, which still is facing oceans of lawsuits over its oil rig explosion and months-long oil leak into the Gulf of Mexico, has 10 wind farms in seven U.S. states. This would be its first such development in Arizona.

The British energy company has started construction of a 150-megawatt wind farm in Pecos County, Texas. BP also is teaming with Clipper Windpower Plc on development of a multiphase, 5,050-megawatt wind farm in South Dakota. If that venture reaches full build-out, it will be the largest in the world.

BP’s proposed Mohave facility coincides with developments of other large-scale wind farms, including Terra-Gen Power LLP’s proposed 1,500-megawatt project in California’s Mojave Desert, east of Bakersfield. Google Inc. and Citigroup are investing in the $1.2 billion development in Kern County, Calif.

The largest wind farm operating in the world today is the 780-megawatt Roscoe Wind Farm near Abilene, Texas.

With less than a gigawatt of planned wind power, even with the BP announcement, Arizona likely won’t be at the top of the list for wind power, as it is for solar. Texas has the most installed wind capacity: 10.1 gigawatts, according to the American Wind Energy Association .

Even smaller farms could produce supply-chain dynamics for the state. Chris Camacho, vice president of business development for the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, said Arizona has some wind developers, such as Southwest Windpower in Flagstaff, which makes small turbines for homes and businesses; and TPI Composites Inc. in Scottsdale, which makes windmill blades.

Any jobs or supply chain likely would remain close to the projects in Northern Arizona, though there is opportunity for Phoenix to develop some of those companies as well, Camacho said.

“The question will be, how do (wind generation companies) see that for supply-chain dynamics?” he said.

Source:  Phoenix Business Journal - by Mike Sunnucks and Patrick O'Grady, www.bizjournals.com 1 July 2011

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

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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