Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE: DUK), through its subsidiary Duke Energy Renewables, will add more wind energy to its generation portfolio in Texas. As stocks climbed nearly two percent Tuesday, Duke Energy Media Representative Greg Efthimiou told Energyboom "We've had a great year."
Just months after Duke Energy announced plans to build the 200 MW Los Vientos I Windpower Project in Willacy County, Texas, the Charlotte-based company said it will add an additional 202 MW in the project's second phase--Los Vientos II.
Construction on both phases is set to begin in December. Each facility is expected to be brought online by the end of 2012. CPS Energy will buy all of the electricity produced at Los Vientos I, and Austin Energy will purchase Los Vientos II's energy.
Los Vientos II will be Duke Energy's fifth wind farm in Texas. Of its 10 operational wind farms spread throughout the country, Duke's assets in Texas generate more than half of the company's 1,000 MW of wind capacity. This trend is the same for the new wind power projects the company has announced in 2011. Of the combined 770 MW that Duke plans to bring online in 2012, 402 MW will be generated in Texas.
Duke Energy's actions make sense when looking at the wind sector in the nation's largest state. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), with 10,135 MW of operational capacity as of the end of Q2 2011 Texas is blowing other state's away. AWEA notes Texas is the first state to reach 10,000 MW of wind energy installations and says there are 63,504 MW wind power projects in the development queue.
Beyond having an abundance of wind energy, Efthimiou said that Texas is attractive for wind developments because the land owners and public officials are well versed in the nuances of the industry. "They understand the upsides of wind energy," he said.
In terms of the Los Vientos projects, Efthimiou said there is a particularly unique reason why Duke is developing in that region. In Wilacy County the wind resource blows strongest during peak demand. "We get peak wind during the hours of peak demand-- when people come home from work and turn on their stoves." Efthimiou says this scenario is a rarity in the wind sector.
Duke's announcement comes just a week after the company not only began construction on its 69 MW Laurel Hill Wind Project in Pennsylvania, but also had its latest joint venture Duke-American Transmission Co. launch its first set of proposed transmission projects to support wind power development in the Midwest.
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