Clark Public Utilities invests in wind energy
March 24, 2009
Clark Public Utilities has agreed to purchase renewable energy from Eurus Combine Hills II LLC, an independent power producer. The renewable energy will come from Eurus’s 63-megawatt wind farm near Milton-Freewater, Oregon.
The wind farm is expected to be completed by the end of this year, and is a second project following on the success of Eurus’s existing 41-megawatt wind farm that has been operating since December 2003.
The project will produce about 175,000 megawatt-hours of electricity annually, about 3.5 percent of the utility’s 2008 retail sales. It will be located about 10 miles west of Milton-Freewater. That’s about 13 miles southwest of Walla Walla.
The agreement was approved this morning by the utility’s board of commissioners. Under the agreement, Clark will buy all of the power produced at the project for 20 years at a fixed cost.
Commissioner Carol Curtis said that entering into this power purchase agreement the utility will meet the initial requirements of Initiative 937, which was approved by Washington voters in 2006. “We expect the project to generate an average of about 20 megawatts based on the wind resource, which is a typical ratio of production to installed capacity for most wind energy projects in the Pacific Northwest.” Backup power needed when the wind energy isn’t available will be purchased.
Initiative 937 requires larger utilities in Washington to use renewable resources to generate at least 3 percent of their power supply beginning in 2012. The amount increases to 9 percent in 2016 and 15 percent by 2020.
Under the initiative, the region’s hydroelectric power supplies are not considered renewable. Curtis says that’s in contrast to similar requirements in many other states that acknowledge the renewable nature of hydroelectric generation.
Curtis noted that although the total cost of power from the project, including transmission and related services needed to integrate the power into Clark’s system, will initially be in excess of Clark’s current residential rate of 7.65 cents per kilowatt-hour, it is important to enter into power purchase agreements and fix the future costs of power for the long term because the cost of renewable energy is predicted to go up over the next few years.
Curtis said the cost of renewable power, combined with an expected October double-digit increase in the cost of power the utility purchases from the Bonneville Power Administration will put pressure on retail electric rates.
Power Manager Lynn Aspaas said the project was the best of eight that the utility evaluated. “This project was superior to others we considered because its power generation is the best fit to meet the power demands of our customers,” Aspaas said.
“In addition, Eurus has been working with the Bonneville Power Administration to obtain agreements to connect the project to the regional grid and for transmission of power to Clark County.”
Eurus has already purchased the wind turbines for the project. That’s an advantage because the price of turbines has increased significantly as more wind projects are developed, Aspaas said.
Since power from the project isn’t needed until 2012, Aspaas says Clark will sell the power in 2010 and 2011.
About Clark Public Utilities
Clark Public Utilities is a customer-owned public utility district that provides electric service to more than 182,000 customers throughout Clark County. The utility also provides water service to about 30,000 homes and businesses in the Hazel Dell, Salmon Creek, Lakeshore, Hockinson, Brush Prairie, La Center, Meadow Glade, Amboy and Yacolt areas. In 2008 Clark Public Utilities was ranked highest in customer satisfaction among midsize utilities in the west by J.D. Power and Associates.
About Eurus Energy America Corporation
Eurus Energy America is the wholly owned subsidiary of Tokyo-based Eurus Energy Holdings (http://www.eurus-energy.com/english/index.html) and is responsible for North American renewable energy investment, now comprising more than 500 megawatts in wind power generation. Eurus Energy Holdings, owned by Tokyo Electric Power Company and Toyota Tsusho Corporation, is a global developer, owner and operator of renewable energy facilities, including both wind and solar, with more than 1700 megawatts worldwide. Eurus Energy America has been active in the United States for more than 20 years, beginning operations in California in 1987.
For more information:
Clark Public Utilities
Mick Shutt, 360-992-3238