San Antonio-based CPS Energy is the nation’s largest municipally owned energy utility. It’s also the nation’s largest municipal buyer of wind power in the state with the nation’s largest potential wind-power capacity. And according to the terms of a recently signed agreement, CPS is about to buy even more of the renewable energy.
The utility has agreed to buy power from the 200-megawatt (MW) capacity plant from Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy Renewables. Duke will build, own and manage the Los Vientos I Windpower Project in Willacy County, approximately 120 miles south of Corpus Christi and 20 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico. The turbines there will harvest the strong winds emerging from the Gulf of Mexico and provide enough electricity to power around 60,000 homes.
The plant is expected to begin commercial operation in December 2012. Under the 25-year agreement between Duke and CPS, the utility will purchase all of the output and the associated renewable energy credits the project generates. Once the 30,000-acre Los Vientos site comes online, CPS will boast a total wind-power capacity of 1,059 MW of Texas wind energy toward its goal of 1,500 MW of renewable energy by 2020.
A second phase of the Los Vientos project is in the planning stages, but a power purchase agreement has not been announced. Duke has three wind farms already up and running in Texas, as well as four in Wyoming, one in Colorado and one in Pennsylvania. Since 2007, the company has invested approximately $1.75 billion to build its ever-growing fleet of wind farms. Duke has recently announced the acquisition of the 20-MW Shirley Windpower Project in Glenmore, Wis., as well as plans to build the 168-MW Ironwood Windpower Project in Ford County, Kan., and the 131-MW Cimarron II Windpower Project in Gray County, Kan.