Duke Energy Corp. is set to build a $100 million wind farm on the eastern Colorado plains and sell the power to Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association Inc., the companies announced Monday
The 20-year power contract marks the first project in Colorado for Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke and the first wind power for Tri- State.
“This is a small step in the right direction,” Ken Anderson, Tri-State’s general manager, said at a news conference on the statehouse steps.
Tri-State, based in Westminster, supplies wholesale power to 44 electric cooperatives in four states, including 18 in Colorado.
The project — 34 turbines on 6,000 acres northeast of Burlington generating 51 megawatts — will be the eighth wind farm in Colorado providing power to utilities.
The cost of the Kit Carson Windpower Project is “north of $100 million,” said Wouter Van Kempen, president of Duke Energy Generation Services.
“This is another important step forward for Colorado’s New Energy Economy and will be a boon for the Eastern Plains,” Gov. Bill Ritter said at the news conference.
The price Tri-State will pay for the energy is confidential, company spokesman Jim Van Someren said.
Colorado wind farms generate 1,060 megawatts — enough to power about 850,000 homes, according to the Intrawest Energy Alliance, a trade group.
Almost all the wind power goes to Xcel Energy, the state’s largest utility, which generates 10 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources and must, under state law, reach 20 percent by 2020.
Municipal utilities and cooperatives, such as Tri-State, have a state-mandated 10 percent renewable target by 2020.
The Kit Carson project will raise Tri-State’s renewables to a little more than 3 percent of the cooperative’s power supply, with 70 percent coming from coal,Anderson said.
It will be a challenge to revise the cooperative’s power portfolio because utilities are capital-intensive and generating plants long-lived,Anderson said.
“We need 15 to 25 years to retool ourselves,” Anderson said.
The project is targeted to be on line by the end of 2010 and will link directly into Tri-State’s existing transmission lines.
“Transmission is the big issue in the West,” said Duke’s Van Kempen. “We’ve been locating our projects close to existing lines.”
Duke has two wind-farm projects in Wyoming, both near transmission lines, Van Kempen said.