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PAGE 2 | MARCH 2012 WIND FARM, CONTINUED FROM FRONT PAGE Delivering that power elsewhere is limited by the cooperative electrical system. In many areas, the additional capacity required to


take excess power elsewhere is not available. Adding that capacity would cost millions of dollars the cooperative’s members should not be responsible to pay. Those costs would be borne by the wind developer in addition to the other costs of building the wind farm. “From conception to development, the average time it takes for a wind farm to be connected to our system is 7-10 years,” said Mike


Swearingen, Tri-County Electric manager of Engineering and NERC Compliance. “The developer works directly with the Southwest Power Pool, of which Tri-County Electric is a member, to determine whether it is possible to add a wind farm to our system.” Wind developers invest a large sum of money in a wind farm, millions of dollars per tower, so they’re going to look for a revenue


stream that will repay that investment along with the maintenance and all the variable costs that come with it over a period of time. Their lender is going to want to see that as well. “Developers do not necessarily have to sell their power to a generation and transmission operator like Xcel Energy,” Perkins


said. “They have the option to sell their power on the market or become a Qualifying Facility and sell directly to us at avoided costs. However, neither of those options are fi nancially viable for the developer. They always fi nd that selling to a wholesale power supplier is their most solid fi nancial option.” Wind is a part of the power mix delivered to Tri-County Electric members. Because of federal subsidies, its price is comparable


to the cost of other fuels like coal and natural gas. The cooperative’s wholesale power suppliers look to wind energy when considering new resources. For example, Golden Spread Electric Cooperative is building a new wind farm called the Panhandle Wind Ranch that is expected to generate enough power for 30,000 homes. Member survey responses also indicate that while many people want to use power from renewables, they are not willing to pay


more for it. Members can count on Tri-County Electric to control costs through innovation and sound management practices. Wind Farm Development Process


1 CONFIRM WIND SPEEDS


Temporary meteorological towers are installed to gauge the wind speeds. Over the course of at least 12 months, these towers measure the exact speed, direction, and frequency of the wind.


4 REGULATORY PERMITTING


The developer is required to secure the environmental and regulatory permits that are needed for construction in the area. The permits can be local, state- wide, or federal, and they all must be in place before construction can begin.


7 TURBINE PROCUREMENT


Demand for turbines has spiked as our nation invests in renewable tech- nologies. Developers must work closely with manufacturers and suppliers to ensure they have the equipment they need to build the project.


2 ELECTRICITY GRID APPLICATION To connect to the grid, the developer


must apply for a spot in line and conduct studies to determine capacity, system impact, and feasibility. Once these are complete, the developer can negotiate an interconnection agreement.


3 LAND LEASES


The developer must negotiate leases with the owners of the land where the turbines are to be located. This often givers farmers an additional source of income while allowing them to farm the majority of their acreage.


5 ENVIRONMENT STUDIES


From an early stage in project development, the developer will study the potential environmental impact of a wind farm on the local area. Though renewable energy helps reduce our dependence of fossil fuels, issues including bird deaths, noise and shadow flicker must be considered.


6 POWER SALES


As any business owner can tell you, opening a store doesn’t guarantee customers. Developers must find buyers for the energy they generate. Often times those customers are hundreds of miles away in large population centers. It takes a complex system of transmission lines and energy traders to bring that power to market.


8 SECURING FINANCE


Projects may be financed in a variety of ways, including federal subsidies, loans, shareholder equity, cash on hand, or corporate bonds.


9 MANAGING CONSTRUCTION


Developers partner with established wind farm construction companies to build the wind farm, which typically takes about a year.


Source: Mainstream Renewable Power Design: Sturges Word Communications


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