Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, already fighting a legislative proposal that would more than double the amount of renewable energy it has to have on its system, on Monday announced plans to expand it’s newest wind farm in Colorado.
Tri-State, based in Westminster, generates power for 18 member cooperatives in Colorado, plus member cooperatives in Nebraska, Wyoming and New Mexico.
Tri-State said the Colorado Highlands Wind project, which supplies 100 percent of its 67 megawatt capacity to Tri-State, will expand to 91 megawatts of capacity with the addition of 14 General Electric-made wind turbines. The new turbines are expected to be online this fall.
The wind farm was built in 2012 and stated operations in December. It’s on 6,640 acres in northern Colorado’s Logan County in the service territory of member coop Highline Electric Association.
Tri-State has a 20-year contract with the wind farm to receive all the power it produces. The wind farm is jointly owned by Alliance Power Inc., based in Littleton, and GE Energy Financial Services of Stamford, Conn.
“Colorado Highlands Wind has been performing extremely well since being brought on-line late last year,” said Tri-State senior vice president Brad Nebergall in a statement.
“The original engineering and design accommodated up to 91 megawatts – which is the maximum that the existing transmission interconnection can support. So now that the additional 14 turbines are available, we are pleased to move forward with its full build-out after Tri-State’s board of directors approved the expansion at its February 2013 meeting,” Nebergall said.
Tri-State said in addition to the 14-turbine expansion at the Colorado Highlands Wind farm, the association also in February issued a request for proposals for renewable energy supplies and is analyzing the bids submitted by the April 2 deadline.
“The current competitive pricing in the renewable energy sector – particularly wind – encouraged us to explore market opportunities to add an additional project or projects to Tri- State’s renewable resource portfolio through the RFP process,” Nebergall said in the announcement. “At the same time, we realize the value we’ll be receiving through the Colorado Highlands Wind expansion.”
In addition to the Highlands Wind project, Tri-State receives wind power produced by the 51-megawatt Kit Carson Windpower Project in eastern Colorado and the 30 megawatts Cimarron Solar Facility in northeastern New Mexico. The Kit Carson wind farm and the solar power plant came online in 2010.
Also, Tri-State’s member coops have another 45 megawatts of local, community-based renewable and distributed generation projects in operation or scheduled to be operational later this year, the power generator said.
Tri-State has been a vocal opponent of SB 252, which the Colorado state Senate was scheduled to consider late Monday.
The bill proposes to raise the renewable energy goal for Tri-State and the Intermountain Rural Electric Association from the current state-mandated goal of 10 percent of its sales by 2020 to 25 percent of the entities’ sales in 2020.
Tri-State has said it’s working to meet the 10 percent goal as mandated in 2007 legislation and it’s too soon, and would be too expensive, to raise the goal to 25 percent.
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