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Tri-State signs agreement with NextEra Energy Resources for new wind facility in eastern Colorado

Thursday, Feb 06, 2014

WESTMINSTER, Colo., Feb. 5, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc. announced that it has entered into a 25-year agreement with a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC for a 150 megawatt wind power generating facility to be constructed in eastern Colorado.

Under the 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA), Tri-State will purchase the entire output and associated environmental attributes of the Carousel Wind Farm. The 150 MW facility will be Tri-State's largest wind energy PPA to date.  When the project begins commercial operation, the wind farm will provide affordable electricity to Tri-State's 44 member cooperatives across Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.

"This was a timely and cost-effective opportunity for us to diversify our generation fleet and deepen our expertise in the challenging area of integrating variable energy resources," said Brad Nebergall, Tri-State's senior vice president.

The Carousel Wind Farm agreement was the result of a solicitation for renewable resources issued by Tri-State in early 2013, months before the Colorado legislature approved a new mandate doubling the renewable standard for the state's rural electric cooperatives. Although the project will assist the association to meet that mandate, as well as a renewable energy standard in place in New Mexico, Tri-State believes such mandates are unnecessary and that the not-for-profit cooperative's resource decisions should be directed by its democratically-elected board.

A NextEra Energy Resources subsidiary will construct, own and operate the Carousel Wind Farm.

The project will interconnect to existing Tri-State transmission facilities in the Burlington area and is possible only because of planned transmission upgrades in the area.  The upgrades have been in the planning process since 2010 and are expected to be completed in 2016. Nebergall notes that constraints in the grid system are making it increasingly harder to site and construct generation facilities in the region.

"Given existing transmission constraints in eastern Colorado, one of the important factors in this agreement with NextEra was having the project completed at the same time as those system upgrades," said Nebergall. "We can't reliably purchase and deliver the output from Carousel to our member systems without the appropriate transmission infrastructure."

The new facility will ultimately contribute to an increasingly diverse energy portfolio for the not-for-profit wholesale power supplier. Today, renewable resources generate approximately 23 percent of the energy that Tri-State provides its member systems. In addition, the company has adopted a first-of-its-kind in the nation program that incentivizes the development of community-based renewable energy projects within its member systems' service territories. To date, Tri-State member cooperatives have 38 projects representing a total of 52 megawatts in place or under development.

The Carousel Wind Farm will be so named because of its relative proximity to the Kit Carson County Carousel, an antique amusement ride and national historic landmark located in nearby Burlington, Colo.

Based in the Denver suburb of Westminster, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association is a not-for-profit wholesale power supplier to 44 electric cooperatives and public power districts serving approximately 1.5 million consumers throughout a 200,000 square-mile service territory across Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.

SOURCE Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association

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