LINCOLN – Lincoln Electric System has finalized power purchase agreements to add 173 megawatts of wind energy and 5 megawatts of solar photovoltaic energy to its power supply resource portfolio by 2016. These projects will increase the utility’s equivalent renewable generation portfolio to 48 percent of LES’ retail energy.
Mayor Chris Beutler and Kevin Wailes, administrator & CEO of Lincoln Electric System, today announced this as one of the most aggressive renewable energy portfolios.
In addition to being environmentally friendly, the projects will also save customers money. “When viewed as a package, our wind and solar contracts are expected to save LES customer-owners approximately $429 million over the next 25 years,” said Wailes.
The wind additions are spread across two wind contracts secured with the same developer, Invenergy, and involve the 73 megawatt Prairie Breeze II Wind Energy Center, located in northeastern Nebraska, and 100 megawatt Buckeye Wind Energy Center, located in north-central Kansas. In August, LES issued a Request for Proposal for up to 200 megawatts of wind energy. LES received 15 responses encompassing a total of 105 distinct proposals. The selected projects will bring LES’ total wind portfolio to 304 MW.
“This is a very opportune time for LES to invest in more wind energy due to future uncertainties of federal Production Tax Credits for wind developers, potential additional regulations on power plant emissions, and the volatility of fossil fuel prices.” said Wailes.
The solar contract was in response to an LES survey which indicated customers were willing to support more local solar energy. LES implemented SunShares, a new program in partnership with customers to bring a community solar project to the Lincoln area.
The 5 megawatt solar array will be located about 75th and W. Holdrege Street, visible from Interstate 80. LES will leverage savings achieved through its wind agreements to help supplement customer participation in the LES SunShares program, which allowed LES to obtain optimal pricing for the solar project.
This project will provide LES with valuable solar operating experience and will be the largest solar installation in the state.
“We have worked as partners in the landfill gas to energy project and the new electric vehicle charging stations,” said Mayor Beutler. “The wind and solar announcements today are another powerful demonstration that LES continues to move toward a more sustainable future."
LES also added 50 kilowatts of solar energy through a rooftop solar array commissioned in early December on the LES Walter A. Canney Service Center off 27th and Fairfield streets.
“As this industry changes, we will continue to find a way to balance our mix of resources, control costs, ensure the reliable delivery of power, and keep rates affordable for LES’ customer-owners,” said Wailes. “LES makes decisions to reflect the values of the community, including environmental stewardship through investments in renewable energy and the promotion of energy efficiency.”