400-MW Grande Prairie wind project comes online

The 400-MW Grande Prairie wind project in Nebraska will soon be sending energy to Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) customers, OPPD said in an Oct. 10 news release.

The facility recently went online and began selling power into the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) marketplace, of which OPPD is a member.

During this test period, OPPD will market the energy to SPP for BHE Renewables, an affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, which owns and operates the wind project.

In this arrangement, SPP will pay OPPD for the power from Grande Prairie and OPPD will, in turn, pass any bills or credits to BHE Renewables.

Power produced by Grande Prairie will come in three levels. The first level is currently being produced and is considered a test of the wind facility.

The second level of production will not be purchased by OPPD due to it coming in the fall and winter, when OPPD’s load demands are historically lower. By June 1, 2017, OPPD will start purchasing 100% of the 400 MW Grand Prairie will produce. This will bring the utility closer to its goal of having 30% of its generation come from renewables by 2018.

If Grande Prairie achieves “firm transmission” before that date, however, OPPD will begin purchasing power at that time, according to a long-term agreement. Firm transmission is when the highest priority for capacity on transmission lines is available. This assures that OPPD can receive all transmission from the wind generation facility.

BHE Renewables oversaw construction of Grande Prairie, which spreads across 45,000 acres in Holt County and has 200 wind turbines that each produce 2MW of electricity. Most are located in the corners of fields, taking up less than one-half acre of space.

Beyond the turbines, Grande Prairie’s operation includes two collection substations, 14 miles of overhead transmission line and underground collection systems.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.