Wind farm, solar project chosen for state clean energy push
Credit: By BRIAN DOWLING | The Hartford Courant | September 20, 2013 | www.courant.com ~~
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The state energy department on Friday will approve two clean energy projects – a wind farm in Maine and a solar farm in Sprauge and Lisbon – that will help Connecticut reach its accelerating renewable energy goals.
The two will generate 3.5 percent of the state’s electric load, some 270 megawatts, at prices that are among the lowest for solar and wind projects in the region, state officials said.
“The selection of these two projects is a major milestone in implementing our Comprehensive Energy Strategy,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a written statement. “These projects bring real benefits – cleaner power with no air emissions and improved reliability by diversifying our energy portfolio – all at a cost comparable to electricity generated from conventional power plants.”
Most of the electricity from these projects will be imported into the state, the Maine wind project providing 250 megawatts to the in-state solar project’s 20.
In Aroostook County, Maine, EDP Renewables will build a 250-megawatt wind farm, called the Number Nine Wind Farm, on 94 acres of private land used now for timber production.
In Sprauge and Lisbon, Heliosage Energy will build a 20-megawatt solar farm on 180 acres off of Potash Hill Road. In its application, the company said it has secured financing from an unnamed Fortune 500 utility.
The energy department, in July, sent out a request for proposals for clean energy projects in New England, searching for low-cost renewable power. Developers responded with 47 proposals, mostly wind-powered, for projects throughout New England, including a high-profile biomass-, solar- and fuel cell-project planned for Montville by NRG Energy.
The developers of the two projects have signed long-term agreements to sell the power to Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating for 15 years. Both are expected to be online by the end of 2016.
This approach, contracting directly with developers, differs substantially how the state bought renewable power before to meet its clean energy goal, which says the state needs to get 20 percent of its power from clean sources by 2020.
Initially, the state’s electric companies had to purchasing renewable energy credits from clean sources like and biomass plants. But the ups and downs of the market for the credits was a disincentive for developers.
The new approach, established by a new law passed by the General Assembly last Spring, gives developers more certainty, with long-term agreements that set prices and subsidy levels.
Daniel C. Esty, commissioner of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said the state’ “approach to clean energy can spark innovation and competition among various technologies and drive down costs.”
“We had wind, solar, fuel cells, tidal and biomass all competing for the same long term power contracts with the electric distribution companies – and the clear winners were Connecticut’s ratepayers,” he said.
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