Big Wind, Solar Projects Come Online in Colorado, California

Several new big wind and solar projects have come online in Colorado and California.

About 90 miles southeast of Denver, the 400 megawatt (MW) Limon wind project spreads across 55,000 acres, bringing Colorado’s total to 2200 MW.

Owned and operated by NextEra Energy Resources, and consisting of General Electric wind turbnes, all the power is being sold to utility Xcel Energy under a long-term contract.

"Our contract with NextEra Energy Resources is one of the lowest we’ve seen and results in a savings of nearly 40% for our customers. They demonstrate that renewable energy can compete on an economic basis with more traditional forms of generation fuel," says David Eves, president and CEO of Public Service Co. of Colorado, an Xcel Energy company.

During the initial 25 years of operation, NextEra estimates the project will generate $130 million in state and local taxes and landowner royalties.

NextEra (NYSE:NEE), the biggest wind developer in the US, is bringing 1,500 MW online this year, the most to date, pushing its total portfolio to over 10,000 MW.

But that will change next year because of the expiring wind tax credit. NextEra, which owns 44% of US wind farms, only plans to invest $505 million in new farms in 2012, down from $2 billion in 2010, and has no plans for new investments after 2015.

In Southern California, EDF Renewable Energy has turned the switch on the 140 MW Pacific Wind farm and 143 MW Catalina Solar project. Their close geographic proximity made it possible to share some infrastructure, making them one of the largest wind/solar hybrid projects in the US.

REpower’s wind turbines are powering Pacific Wind, which supplies electricity to 56,000 homes. Solar Frontier and First Solar modules are used in Catalina Solar, which will power 35,000 homes.

"Pacific Wind and Catalina Solar are the direct result of California’s renewable energy mandate, as well as the federal production tax credit and the investment tax credit. The PTC for wind, and more recently the ITC for solar, assist renewable resources in leveling the playing field against fossil fuels, which have decades of government incentives behind them," says Mark Tholke, vice president of EDF Renewable Energy’s Southwest Region. 

EDF Renewable Energy has a wind and solar portfolio of 1,563 MW in the US. This latest wind project helped US wind capacity cross the threshold to 50 GW in August.

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