Tri-State signs agreement for 150-megawatt wind project in eastern Colo.

Tri-State has entered into a 25-year agreement with a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC for a 150 megawatt wind generating facility to be constructed in eastern Colorado in the service territory of Tri-State member, K. C. Electric Association (Hugo, Colo.).

Phase 1 of Colorado Highlands Wind was completed in 2012. Located in Colorado's northeastern Logan County, it receives station electric service from Tri-State member, Highline Electric Association.

Phase 1 of Colorado Highlands Wind was completed in 2012. Located in Colorado’s northeastern Logan County, it receives station electric service from Tri-State member, Highline Electric Association.

Under the 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA), Tri-State will purchase the entire output and associated environmental attributes of the Carousel Wind Farm. The 150 MW facility will be Tri-State’s largest wind energy PPA to date.  When the project begins commercial operation, the wind farm will provide affordable electricity to Tri-State’s 44 member cooperatives across Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.

“This was a timely and cost-effective opportunity for us to diversify our generation fleet and deepen our expertise in the challenging area of integrating variable energy resources,” said Brad Nebergall, Tri-State’s senior vice president.

The Carousel Wind Farm agreement was the result of a solicitation for renewable resources issued by Tri-State in early 2013, months before the Colorado legislature approved a new mandate doubling the renewable standard for the state’s rural electric cooperatives. Although the project will assist the association to meet that mandate, as well as a renewable energy standard in place in New Mexico, Tri-State believes such mandates are unnecessary and that the not-for-profit cooperative’s resource decisions should be directed by its democratically-elected board.

A NextEra Energy Resources subsidiary will construct, own and operate the Carousel Wind Farm.

The project will interconnect to existing Tri-State transmission facilities in the Burlington area and is possible only because of planned transmission upgrades in the area.  The upgrades have been in the planning process since 2010 and are expected to be completed in 2016. Nebergall notes that constraints in the grid system are making it increasingly harder to site and construct generation facilities in the region. 

In 2013, Colorado Highlands Wind was expanded from 67 megawatts to 91 megawatts of capacity. Carousel Wind will be Tri-State's largest wind resource with 150 megawatts of capacity.

In 2013, Colorado Highlands Wind was expanded from 67 megawatts to 91 megawatts of capacity. Carousel Wind will be Tri-State’s largest wind resource with 150 megawatts of capacity.

“Given existing transmission constraints in eastern Colorado, one of the important factors in this agreement with NextEra was having the project completed at the same time as those transmission system upgrades,” said Nebergall. “We can’t reliably purchase and deliver the output from Carousel to our member systems without the appropriate infrastructure.”

The Carousel Wind Farm will be so named because of its relative proximity to the Kit Carson County Carousel, an antique amusement ride and national historic landmark located in nearby Burlington, Colo.

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