HOLLAND, MI – The Holland Board of Public Works has approved an agreement to purchase energy from a second wind farm, this one in Michigan.
The BPW board of directors on Monday, March 11, voted to recommend approval of a 20-year agreement with Bebee Wind LLC, which is developing the Bebee 1B wind farm project near the Gratiot County community of Ithaca. If all goes according to plan, the utility could begin receiving power from the wind farm by August of next year.
Holland would join four other member utilities of the Michigan Public Power Agency, including the Zeeland Board of Public Works, in purchasing 26.4 megawatts of power from the Bebee 1B site. Holland would be by far the largest user with 16.8 megawatts, BPW Business Services Manager Dan Nally said.
“Entering into a contract as a group, we increase our purchasing power and receive better pricing, and we can pass those savings onto customers,” BPW General Manager Dave Koster said.
The Bebee 1B agreement, which is expected to come before the City Council March 20, follows an earlier agreement by BPW late last year to purchase 15 megawatts of power from Wildcat 1, a wind farm project under construction about 45 miles northeast of Indianapolis, Ind., over a 10-year period. At the time, the BPW board approved a memorandum of understanding on Beebe 1B to give the utility additional time to negotiate details of the contract.
Under the Bebee 1B contract, BPW will pay less than 4.5 cents a kilowatt hour for power – a cost usually seen for energy derived from fossil fuels – under the first year of the agreement, with increases of 2.5 percent annually through the remainder of the contract. The lower cost was aided by the renewal of federal tax credits for wind energy projects that were approved late last year, Nally said.
“It’s a low-risk project,” Nally said, noting much of the infrastructure for Beebe 1B is already in place because of an earlier agreement between Consumers Energy and Bebee Wind LLC to purchase wind energy. “All they have to do is erect the turbines and start them up.”
The Wildcat 1 and Beebe 1B projects together will bring in nearly 32 megawatts of power for BPW, accounting for 16 percent of the city’s total electric portfolio. State law requires utilities to have 10 percent of their electric power sales come from renewable sources by 2015.
BPW began looking at purchasing wind power on the open market after two earlier efforts to develop their own wind projects – one in Upper Michigan’s Chippewa County and one in Allegan County – failed to result in a cost-effective solution.
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