The utility has contracted with an affiliate of Invenergy Wind LLC to buy 32.5 megawatts from the Spring Canyon II Energy Center. The wind farm will have 19 wind turbines with the capacity to generate as much as 130,000 megawatt hours of power.
That’s enough electricity to power nearly 15,500 homes annually on average. Platte River, a nonprofit wholesale electricity generation and transmission provider, will buy the electricity through a 25-year agreement that will cost the utility an estimated $100 million.
Construction of the wind farm is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of this year, with commercial operations beginning as early as the fourth quarter of next year. The purchase eventually likely will lead to a “fraction of a percent” rate increase next year, said John Bleem, Platte River’s customer and environmental services division manager.
“It’s a fairly small impact,” Bleem said.
The new wind farm will be built about 130 miles northeast of Fort Collins near Invenergy’s Spring Canyon Energy facility, a 60-megawatt wind farm established in 2006. Platte River does not buy electricity from the older farm because its transmission lines do not serve the region.
“If transmission opens up in the future, we may be able to take more (wind power) from that site,” Bleem said.
Platte River estimates that the electricity produced annually at Spring Canyon II will generate about 3.5 percent of the power consumed in the four cities it serves: Fort Collins, Loveland, Estes Park and Longmont. That would raise Platte River’s total renewable energy generation, including hydropower, to 26.5 percent. Nearly all of the remaining generation comes from coal.
“The purchase of additional wind energy provides a number of benefits, including a step toward a more diverse generation portfolio and lower potential future costs associated with fossil fuel emissions, combined with fixed pricing from this resource,” Platte River General Manager Jackie Sargent said.