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Emerald PUD Seeking Wind

Mark Ohrenschall
Con.Web, June 26, 2003

Emerald PUD Solicits 1 aMW-5 aMW of Wind Power

Emerald PUD is in the market for wind power.

In one of the first wind energy solicitations by a Northwest publicly owned utility, Emerald is seeking between 1 average megawatt and 5 aMW of wind for its customers in Oregon’s Lane County.

Emerald’s solicitation describes the utility’s interest in a power purchase agreement or project ownership. This wind power could come from the Northwest states or Wyoming, delivered beginning immediately or sometime in the next two years.

"One of the expectations I have is that we will be an add-on or a tack-on to a bigger project," said Emerald resources manager Alan Zelenka. "If somebody’s building a big project, they can add three to 10 more turbines, and then we can share in the economies of scale of that."

Emerald’s request for wind proposals stems from its recent new service to two large industrial customers, who pay public-purposes funding that would help cover the costs of this wind power, Zelenka told Con.WEB. The utility, which gets almost all its wholesale electricity from Bonneville Power Administration, also is interested in wind as a prospective new resource.

July 14 is Emerald’s deadline for submittals.

Seeking Wind Emerald already has renewable energy in its resource portfolio, with its 3.2-MW-capacity Short Mountain landfill-gas plant and purchase of 1 aMW of green power from BPA and Bonneville Environmental Foundation.

Now, Emerald is looking for a minimum of 1 aMW and maximum of 5 aMW of wind power; the latter amount would equal about 10 percent of its total load.

The public-power utility is open to a power purchase agreement (the solicitation lists 10- or 20-year terms) or project ownership. Zelenka said the ownership option would be feasible if federal legislation would allow tradable tax credits for renewables, enabling publicly owned utilities to take advantage. Publics are eligible for the federal Renewable Energy Production Incentive (REPI), but Zelenka said REPI funding levels are woefully short for qualifying projects. "Most … public utilities aren’t banking on REPI," he said. Emerald was scheduled to receive 2002 REPI funds for Short Mountain in April, but Congress has yet to appropriate the money. "It’s a very sketchy source of incentive money," he said.

As for location, Emerald prefers the Northwest for wind power, but specifically mentions Wyoming as a possibility (the utility already gets BPA/BEF wind from Wyoming’s Foote Creek Rim). Emerald customers would favor Oregon-generated wind power, Zelenka said, but "that doesn’t necessarily get you the best project."

Emerald will look at wind delivered to different points, and the power can be energy output only or firmed and shaped. The utility plans to acquire energy, capacity and green tags from the wind power.

"We’re going out looking right now ... with the thinking that probably a lot of the better projects are being developed now," Zelenka said, noting Portland General Electric, PacifiCorp and Puget Sound Energy all have declared interest in wind power. "We’re hoping to get some synergies."

Emerald also is examining its future power options. "We may want to buy some more green power to position ourselves for post-2006 Bonneville [power], as well as potentially in the short term," he said.

This new wind power would be funded by some combination of EPUD public-purposes dollars and ratepayers, according to Zelenka.

Emerald delivers market power to Pope & Talbot and Georgia-Pacific facilities in its service territory, he explained. Three percent of their total electricity costs are earmarked for conservation, renewables and low-income initiatives, as required by Oregon’s electric industry restructuring law, although the specific funding categories were developed independently by EPUD as a publicly owned utility. This yields about $60,000 annually for the above-market costs of renewables.

"If the bids come in and they seem to be cost-effective, then we might step up to the plate and might buy some more wind power for our resource portfolio," he said. After proposals come in by mid-July, it will likely take at least a couple of months to bring further plans to the Emerald board of directors.

Power market circumstances, and specifically BPA rates in the near- and long-term futures, will "absolutely" influence Emerald’s ultimate wind decision, he said.

More Information: Alan Zelenka, Emerald PUD: phone, (541) 744-7464; e-mail,

Mark Ohrenschall
Emerald PUD Seeking Wind
Con.Web - June 26, 2003

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