NTR’s Wind Capital Group to provide 201MW of electricity to Kansas firm

15 Dec 2010

Wind Capital Group, the wind-business subsidiary of NTR, has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Kansas-based electric utility Westar Energy.

Westar Energy will purchase 201MW of electricity from Wind Capital Group’s Post Rock Wind Energy facility, which is being developed in Ellsworth and Lincoln Counties in Kansas.

Wind energy – US

Formed in 2005, Wind Capital Group is currently developing utility-scale wind farm projects across the central US. Construction at the Post Rock Wind Energy facility is scheduled to begin in 2011 with the project coming online in the second half of 2012. The project will provide enough electricity to power more than 70,000 homes. It plans to use General Electric 1.5 MW wind turbines. Post Rock will be the seventh utility-scale wind energy facility Wind Capital Group has developed and the second project under the company’s new business model, in which it owns and operates the wind energy facilities it develops.

The first such facility, the 150 MW Lost Creek Wind Energy Facility in DeKalb County, Missouri, started operations in the second quarter of 2010 and is now generating enough electricity to power more than 50,000 homes.

Speaking about the deal with Westar Energy, Jim Barry, chief executive, NTR, says this is a significant coup for Wind Capital Group.

“The US wind sector has experienced a slow down in the pace of PPAs being awarded of late due to prevailing economic uncertainties. However, through the development of strong relationships and a quality offering, Wind Capital Group has bucked the trend in securing this landmark contract – its first footprint outside the State of Missouri.”

Westar Energy owns 149 MW of wind-generating capacity at its Central Plains and Flat Ridge Wind Farms and has previous power purchase agreements for 146 MW of wind energy. It is currently providing electric service to about 686,000 customers in the state.

In 2009, Kansas passed a renewable energy standard that requires investor-owned utilities to commit to renewable energy equal to 10pc of their average summer peak. The renewable energy standard increases to 15pc in 2016 and 20pc in 2020.
Tom Carnahan, Wind Capital Group’s president and CEO, said: “This partnership shows more than ever that quality relationships, coupled with a great product, hard work, and a low price remains a winning formula in America. For Westar, this means over 200 new megawatts of wind energy will be added to their portfolio, and for Wind Capital Group, it sets the stage for our continued growth into new markets across the country.”

Solar, biofuels and wind

NTR’s renewable energy interests span the solar, wind and biofuel sectors. To give a flavour, it’s company Green Plains Renewable Energy, based in Nebraska, is a low-cost ethanol producer. As reported on Siliconrepublic in April, the company had Q1 revenues of $426.5m. Green Plains has six US ethanol plants, in Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska and Tennessee, with annual expected operating capacity totalling circa 480 million gallons.

Meanwhile, NTR’s subsidiary Tessera Solar North America has contracts to build and operate large solar power projects with Californian utilities. It is deploying the technology created by NTR’s other solar-energy firm, Stirling Energy Systems (SES). The company has created a solar power solution called SunCatcher, which combines a mirrored concentrator dish with a high-efficiency Stirling engine, designed to convert sunlight into electricity.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic