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Wind farm withdraws contract with city of Columbia for electricity

COLUMBIA – The city has learned that what would have been its single largest purchase of electricity generated from wind is in doubt.

This contract was for the purchase of 20 megawatts of electricity from Farmer City Wind in northwest Missouri for $900,000. It was also expected to raise the city’s renewable energy portfolio from 7 percent to more than 11 percent. In perfect conditions, this 20 megawatt purchase could power a third of all the homes in Columbia.

On Thursday morning, Water and Light Director Tad Johnsen said the company contacted the city asking to pull the contract from the agenda of the City Council meeting held on Monday, citing an “unexpected challenge.” He also said there was an “upper-level” corporate decision that did not allow the company to move forward with the contract.

In an interview on Wednesday, Paul Copleman of Iberdrola Renewables, the company that owns Farmer City Wind, would only say that the contract was under review.

Connie Kacprowicz of the city Water and Light Department said the next step is to see whether the contract can be revived.

Members of the Water and Light Advisory Board agreed at a meeting Thursday morning that the city would need to look for another provider of renewable energy if the contract doesn’t pan out.

The city has a goal of reaching 15 percent renewable energy in its electric portfolio by the end of 2017, as outlined in the renewable energy ordinance.