Duke completes 200-MW Los Vientos III Windpower Project in Texas

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) announced May 12 the startup of 100 wind turbines near the Rio Grande in Starr County, Texas, which marks a major achievement for both Duke Energy and the project’s customer, Austin Energy.

“The Los Vientos III Windpower Project achieving commercial operation represents a significant milestone for Duke Energy Renewables, as we now have more than 2,000 megawatts of renewable energy in production,” said Greg Wolf, president of Duke Energy Renewables. “And, as the third project we’ve completed for Austin Energy, it also signifies a productive and successful partnership as we continue to help this progressive customer grow its renewable portfolio.”

Austin Energy is purchasing the power and associated renewable energy credits from the 200-MW wind farm under a 25-year agreement, increasing the total output purchased from Duke Energy Renewables to more than 500 MW. Austin Energy also will purchase the output of the 200-MW Los Vientos IV wind farm under construction in Starr County, which has an expected completion date in 2016.

“The completion of Los Vientos III means that Austin Energy’s wind portfolio has now surpassed 1,000 MW, which is nearly a third of our total generating capacity,” said Larry Weis, general manager of Austin Energy. “We are very excited to reach this major milestone.” 

Los Vientos III is located approximately 100 miles west of Brownsville near Rio Grande City. In addition to Los Vientos IV, Los Vientos V, in the same proximity, is currently under construction. Vestas supplied 100 V110-2.0 MW turbines for Los Vientos III and will service the project under a three-year operations and maintenance agreement. The company will also provide turbines for Los Vientos IV and V.

“We’re very proud of our partnership with Duke and of the role we’ve played in helping Duke and Austin Energy meet these milestones,” said Chris Brown, president of Vestas’ sales and service division in the United States and Canada. “The Duke team is emerging as a renewable energy powerhouse. We are pleased to work with them and appreciate their confidence in us.”

Amshore US Wind provided development support for the project, which was constructed by Wanzek Construction.

The Duke Energy Renewables’ projects under operation 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
  • Los Vientos III Windpower Project, Starr County, 200 MW

Duke Energy Renewables, part of Duke Energy’s Commercial Portfolio, is a leader in developing innovative wind and solar energy generation projects for customers throughout the United States. The company’s growing portfolio of commercial renewable assets includes 16 wind farms and 24 solar farms in operation in 12 states, totaling more than 2 GW in capacity.

Austin Energy is a municipal electric utility, owned and operated by the City of Austin, Texas, engaged in the generation, distribution, and transmission of electricity to more than 440,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in Travis and Williamson counties, Texas. Austin Energy has approximately 4,400 MW of generation capacity, either wholly owned or subject to long-term Power Purchase Agreements. This diverse portfolio includes nuclear, coal, natural gas, biomass, wind, and solar.

Since 1979, Vestas has supplied about 50,000 wind turbines and over 57 GW in 73 countries — 62% more than its closest competitor. Vestas entered the U.S. market in 1981, selling its first wind turbine for a project in California. Since then, the company has delivered 12,396 turbines to the United States and 1,419 to Canada. Combined, Vestas’ installed capacity is 13,387 MW in 28 U.S. states and every Canadian province. Vestas’ U.S. and Canadian sales and service headquarters is in Portland, Ore., and its global headquarters is in Aarhus, Denmark.

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.