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Council eyes wind power

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At their April 16 meeting, Village Council members heard a presentation from Eric Lloyd of AMP, the municipal electric cooperative, regarding the Blue Creek Wind Energy Project, a new wind farm in northwest Ohio. AMP is recommending that Yellow Springs become a subscriber to the farm, and add wind to its renewable energy portfolio.

However, the Village’s two energy consultants, Courtney and Associates and Sawvel and Associates, have both recommended that the Village turn down the wind option. According to a letter to Council from Courtney, within a few years the Village’s energy portfolio will be about 89 percent renewables, and it’s considered good practice to leave 5 to 10 percent of the portfolio for purchases from the energy market, to take advantage of price and demand fluctuations. Because the wind farm subscription would not leave room for market purchases, Courtney recommended against the move.

The topic was discussion only, with Council members and Village Energy Board rep Jerry Papania stating that more study on the wind option is needed. Council members also requested clarification on the Village energy portfolio’s renewable energy components. While Courtney forecasts that 89 percent of the portfolio will be renewables by 2016, Sawvel identified only 65 percent of the portfolio as renewables at that time.

If the Village is interested in the wind farm, however, it will need to act soon, according to Lloyd, as subscriptions to the wind farm are due on June 1.

For the past several years, Village Council has emphasized its interest in using renewables as much as possible for Village electric needs. In that time, the Village has signed onto several renewable projects, including hydro projects on the Ohio River and landfill gas. It also last year committed to a Solarvision/Melink/Yellow Springs Renewable Energy Project solar farm in Yellow Springs, although that project has yet to be fully funded.

According to a Courtney graph of the Village’s power supply portfolio in 2016, the Village will then have 60 percent of its energy sourced from hydro projects, 20 percent from landfill gas, 9 percent from solar, and 8 percent from natural gas, with 3 percent purchased from the energy market.

“Considering that approximately 97 percent of the Village’s projected 2016 energy needs are to be supplied by current committed resources, we do not recommend participation in the Wind Project,” the Courtney letter stated. Should the Village decide to participate, Courtney recommended that it purchase no more than 200 kilowatts of energy, or 2 percent of the Village’s projected needs.

AMP was recommending that the Village subscribe for 300 kW of wind power. The wind farm, located in Van West and Paulding counties, began construction in 2010 and last month became operable. The farm is owned by Iberdrola Renewables, a subsidiary of Iberdrola S.A., one of Spain’s largest electric utilities, according to the Sawvel letter. The company owns 44 wind farms and is experienced in the industry, according to Lloyd.

While in the past, wind has most often been considered an intermittent energy source due to its variable nature, the AMP project’s wind energy is considered a baseload source of power, meaning it is available on a steady basis, Lloyd said. While it’s impossible to predict when and how forcefully the wind will blow, improved technology has allowed wind to have a capacity factor of about 35 percent, which means it generates energy about 35 percent of the time, according to Lloyd.

If the Village signs on to the wind farm, the commitment would be a power purchase agreement only, which means the Village would only be responsible for power generated and not construction costs, according to Lloyd. The contract would be a 10-year agreement.

Council members expressed interest in using wind as a renewable source, and agreed to study the proposal further.

“What we’re trying to do is get a portfolio that’s as sustainable as we can get,” Rick Walkey said.

Other items on Council’s April 16 agenda will be in next week’s News.

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