OwnEnergy Inc. and Northwest Energy Sign Power Purchase Agreement For Community Wind Energy Development
Community Wind developer OwnEnergy Inc has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with South Dakota-based utility Northwest Energy (NYSE: NWE) for a wind farm being developed in Wheatland County, Montana.
Located near the town of Two Dot, the wind facility will produce nearly 10 MW of renewable energy. Northwest Energy has agreed to purchase all of Two Dot Wind Farm's electrical output. The utility, which delivers electricity to 398,400 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, is nearing the limit of new wind generation to qualify for the Montana Public Service Commission's (MPSC) Qualifying Facility tariff rate. MPSC approved a rate for Northwestern Energy to add up to 50 MW of new wind power. Once the utility reaches the 50 MW the regulators will reassess the rates and policies.
Since 2007, Brooklyn, NY-based OwnEnergy has been establishing itself as a leader in Community Wind development. What sets a Community Wind developer apart from utility owned wind farms is that the developer shares the majority of wind farm ownership with the land owners and local communities. One of the characteristics of Community Wind as defined by the American Wind Association is the "opportunities for members of the community to have a direct financial stake in the project, with an appropriate share of both the risks and rewards of such investments."
In general this means OwnEnergy partners with a local company to develop the wind farm. For the Two Dot Wind Farm project, OwnEnergy has partnered with Two Dot Wind LLC, which was formed by two local businessmen. With the PPA in hand OwnEnergy anticipates beginning construction in spring of 2012. In May the company set another 2012 construction target for a 60 MW wind farm in Oklahoma. After securing the leases on 5,000 acres of land in Kay County OwnEnergy said they were working on obtaining a PPA but Project manager Russ Laplante said “After we get that, we're going to be off to the races.”
OwnEnergy is the only Community Wind developer that is backed by venture capital funds, which differentiates it from competitors like Minnesota's publicly traded Juhl Wind, Inc. (OTC BB: JUHL.OB). OwnEnergy says that it has a 35 project 2100 MW wind power pipeline that spans16 states.
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