Huge wind farm could reduce Fort Collins electricity rates, triple wind power

Source: By Jacy Marmaduke, The Coloradoan • Posted: Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Platte River Power Authority is nearing the finish line for a wind power project that could make almost half its delivered electricity renewable.

Fort Collins’ electricity provider is nearing the finish line for a wind power project that could save residents money and make almost half its delivered electricity renewable.

Roundhouse Renewable Energy, a 150-megawatt wind farm, would triple Platte River Power Authority’s wind capacity. For comparison’s sake, 150 megawatts of capacity is about half that of Platte River electricity stalwart Rawhide Unit One — the Wellington-area coal plant set to retire before 2047.

Enyo Renewable Energy would operate the wind farm on Duck Creek Ranch in southeast Wyoming and Northern Colorado and sell the electricity to Platte River Power Authority.

Platte River, which provides power to Fort Collins, Loveland, Estes Park and Longmont, is working to reach an agreement with Enyo in early 2018. Project costs are still being negotiated, Platte River spokesman Steve Roalstad said. At Platte River’s December board meeting, staff said the project could result in rate savings of about 2.5 to 5 percent by 2030.

And Platte River savings generally translate to resident savings.

In 2017, wind power made up about 11 percent of the electricity Platte River sent to its four owner-municipalities. The power came from three wind farms ranging in capacity from 6 to 60 megawatts. Another 19 percent of electricity came from hydropower, and about 2 percent came from the Rawhide Flats solar project that neighbors Rawhide Unit One. Altogether, that’s about one-third renewable sources.

The Roundhouse farm could later be expanded with an additional 75 megawatts, Platte River staff said at the board meeting. With the expansion, Platte River’s renewable energy sources would make up about half the electricity it delivers to its owner-municipalities, Platte River general manager and chief executive officer Jason Frisbie said.

Platte River gets solar and wind energy through purchase power agreements, which allow private entities to take advantage of tax benefits for renewable energy and sell the power to Platte River. The proposal being considered would bind Platte River to buying wind power from the Roundhouse Renewable Energy wind farm from late 2020 through spring 2042.

Enyo Renewable Energy has a long history with wind power — it operated the first wind farm in Wyoming — and strong financial backing, staff said at the board meeting.

“We’re very conservative,” Frisbie said. “We tend to contract with folks that look at projects (of this scale) like, ‘This isn’t that big of a deal.’ ”