MUSCATINE, Iowa – Muscatine Power and Water’s wind energy project is back on track.
After discussing the matter in closed session Friday morning, the Board of Water, Electric, and Communications Trustees concluded a special meeting by authorizing General Manager Sal LoBianco to enter into an amended wind power purchase agreement with South Fork Wind, a part of Edina, Minnesota-based Geronimo Energy. Pending the satisfactory negotiation of remaining terms, LoBianco is authorized to sign the agreement on behalf of MP&W.
Details of the proposed agreement haven’t been made public, pending the conclusion of negotiations. But a press release from MP&W says the wind farm will be constructed in Jackson County in southwest Minnesota, which is within MP&W’s resource zone as defined by the Mid continent Independent Transmission System Operator. All MP&W energy purchases and sales are conducted in the market. Up to thirteen megawatts of energy, an amount equal to 5.6 percent of MP&W’s local energy requirement, are expected to be produced by the new wind farm. The new facility is anticipated to be constructed and in operation by the end of 2016.
A survey of MP&W customers indicated 44 percent of residential customers favor utilizing renewable energy, according to the press release. “Diversifying our generation portfolio has long been a goal for the Electric Utility, which is why we entered into the original 2013 agreement (with Geronimo),” LoBianco said in the release. “But when forces beyond our control delayed the project, we continued to pursue a workable solution with Geronimo Energy.”
The amended agreement is expected to have a lower cost than the 2013 agreement. “Participating in this project affords MP&W economies of scale we could not achieve alone, plus wind energy allows us to pro actively comply with anticipated future regulation of carbon from fossil fuels and potentially reduce future compliance costs,” LoBianco continued in the press release. “Additionally, with the Production Tax Credit phasing out, now is the time to act to avoid potential increased development costs for wind energy.”
Erika Cox, MP&W’s Director of Employee and Community Relations, confirmed after the meeting the agreement will help MP&W meet a federal mandate to produce a portion of its energy output via renewable means. “It’s definitely headed in that direction,” she said. “We’d like to have other opportunities in Muscatine that people can see.”
One potential opportunity being explored, Cox added, is a community solar garden that would provide additional renewable energy at costs lower than individual installations would be.
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