Duke Energy moves ahead with two more wind projects in Texas

Duke Energy Renewables, a commercial business unit of Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), said Sept. 26 that it will build two large-scale wind power facilities in South Texas.

Duke Energy Renewables will build, own and operate the Los Vientos III and IV wind projects, sited about 100 miles west of Brownsville near Rio Grande City in Starr County. Each will produce 200 MW. Austin Energy will purchase the output and associated renewable energy credits from the wind farms under two 25-year agreements.

“We are pleased to again be bringing jobs, economic development and clean, affordable electricity to Texas, where we have our largest presence,” said Duke Energy Renewables President Greg Wolf. “We’re also glad to be working again with Austin Energy on projects that further their commitment to investing in renewable power.”

Austin Energy also purchases the power from Duke Energy Renewables’ Los Vientos II wind project in Willacy and Cameron counties.

“Austin Energy has among the most aggressive renewable energy goals in the country and these two new wind projects with Duke Energy will help us meet our 35 percent renewable energy goal four years ahead of schedule,” said Austin Energy General Manager Larry Weis. “They will also help push our wind portfolio to more than 1,000 MW, which is nearly a third of our total generation.”

Duke Energy Renewables will begin construction of the projects in the fourth quarter of this year, with an in-service date expected in early 2015 for Los Vientos III and mid-2016 for Los Vientos IV.

Duke Energy Renewables Vice President Milton Howard, project developer, said: “We are proud to be partnering with Austin Energy and the leaders, landowners and people of Starr County. Thanks to them, we will be able to bring jobs to the area during project construction, and once complete, Los Vientos III and IV will continue to boost economic development, support the local school districts, and be a source of dependable tax revenue for years to come.”

Vestas will supply 200 2-MW turbines for the two wind projects.

Once in operation, the 400 MW produced by Los Vientos III and IV will bring Duke Energy’s total wind capacity to more than 2,000 MW, which firmly establishes Duke Energy Renewables in the top 10 for wind production in the country.

Duke Energy’s renewables projects in Texas are:

  • Sweetwater Windpower Project, Nolan County, 283 MW (of 585 MW total)
  • Ocotillo Windpower Project, Howard County, 59 MW
  • Notrees Windpower Project, Ector and Winkler counties, 153 MW
  • Blue Wing Solar Power Project, San Antonio, 14 MW
  • Notrees Battery Storage Project, Winkler County, 36 MW
  • Los Vientos I Windpower Project, Willacy County, 200 MW
  • Los Vientos II Windpower Project, Willacy County, 202 MW

Austin Energy is the nation’s eighth largest publicly-owned electric utility. The utility serves more than 420,000 customers and a population of almost one million within the City of Austin, Travis County and a small portion of Williamson County. Austin Energy has a total generation portfolio of nearly 3,000 MW. About 25% of the electricity comes from renewable energy resources, mainly wind power. Austin Energy has aggressive goals to achieve 35% of its energy from renewable resources by 2020 and reduce carbon emission levels 20% below those reached in 2005.

The Austin, Texas, City Council approved three new wind contracts totaling 570 MW, the city said June 27. These projects have terms up to 25 years and fixed pricing between $23 and $33 per MWh, which is comparable to wind pricing 10+ years ago. These prices are also competitive with natural gas generation.

Two contracts are with Duke Energy Renewables, each for 200 MW from Los Vientos III and IV. The third contract announced June 27 is for 170 MW from E.ON Climate and Renewables North America LLC in Nueces County. The Patriot Wind project, located 25 miles southwest of Corpus Christi, is expected to be online by the end of 2014.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.