SOMERSET, Pa., Oct. 24, 2001 – The nation’s five largest retail wind energy purchases – bought by the University of Pennsylvania, Penn State University, Carnegie Mellon University, Philadelphia Suburban Water Corporation and Giant Eagle, Inc. – were announced today at the gala dedication of Pennsylvania’s newest wind farms in Somerset and Mill Run.
These purchases, along with those of several other organizations, already account for 75% of the newly available wind energy, assuring further wind development and securing Pennsylvania’s lead in wind energy in the East.
“When wind energy customers see those big blades turning, they can take pride in knowing they brought us a new source of home-grown energy with no fuel, no smoke, and no price spikes,” said Brent Alderfer of Community Energy, Inc. “These universities and businesses are the first to step up – they are the leaders. They are showing us that energy independence is part of strong healthy communities, like we saw all around us today at the wind farm opening.” Alderfer also noted that each of the five top purchases is the largest retail wind energy purchase in the country to date, and marks the beginning of a new renewable energy industry never before commercialized in the northeast. Community Energy, a green electricity marketing company headquartered in Wayne, Pennsylvania, will market the wind power to commercial and residential customers.
The two new wind farms to supply these pioneering purchases officially opened today in Somerset and Mill Run, Pennsylvania, with an address by Glen Thomas, Chair of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. Additionally, a proclamation by Governor Schweiker naming this week “Wind Energy Week” in Pennsylvania in honor of the progress of this latest energy technology and encouraging Pennsylvanians to purchase wind energy was presented.
More than 500 elementary school children participated in a community celebration of the opening, and the winning student wind energy design was printed on a T-shirt distributed at the event. Local, state and national officials were also in attendance.
These two new wind farms are located in the heart of the Allegheny Mountains along more than a mile of ridge-top pastureland, ranging in elevation from 2700 to 2900 feet. Six of the impressive wind turbines catch the attention of travelers on the Pennsylvania Turnpike as they appear on the landscape near exit 10 between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.
The state-of-the-art technology with three blades, 230 feet in diameter turning slowly atop graceful tubular towers create a kinetic sculpture, which the speakers at the event described as a new symbol of energy independence and community strength.
The 24 megawatts of new wind generation will generate approximately 63,000 MWh per year of emission-free electricity, enough energy to power over 8000 average Pennsylvania homes. As compared to the same amount of conventional generation, this wind generation is estimated to avoid about 75 million pounds annually of CO2 emissions, equivalent to taking 5400 cars off the road, or planting more than 10,000 acres of trees each year.
The price of energy from the new projects is lower than wind energy previously developed in the region thanks to favorable wholesaling arrangements handled by Exelon Power Team, the long-term wholesale purchaser of the wind energy. Exelon’ s project lead, Mike Freeman, stated, “We are committed to these wind energy projects because we think that building a broad range of supply resources including renewable energy will help us meet our energy needs now and in the future. We value fuel and generation diversity in our portfolio and wind energy provides diversity. We are working with Community Energy to market wind energy in this region, and we are extremely pleased with its popularity so far.”
The projects were built by Mill Run Windpower LLC and Somerset Windpower LLC, joint ventures between Atlantic Renewable Energy Corporation, the developer of wind projects on the east coast, and Zilkha Renewable Energy, a Texas-based developer, builder, owner and operator of wind power plants worldwide. State-of-the-art 1.5 mega-watt wind turbines produced by California-based Enron Wind Corporation use longer, slower-turning blades to provide higher efficiencies in the moderate, steady wind regimes of the mid-Atlantic.
Michael Zilkha, CEO of Zilkha Renewable Energy stated, “We are delighted to be participating in a competitive energy market like Pennsylvania, and are particularly pleased that the rules of the game in Pennsylvania allow renewable energy to compete on a level playing field. Pennsylvania regulators are to be commended on how they have structured the electricity market. Zilkha Renewable Energy is committed to developing clean, non-polluting energy sources. We are excited about our initial Pennsylvania ventures, and hope it will be the first of many.”
Theo de Wolff, Principal of Atlantic Renewable Energy Corporation, added, “We are pleased to be able to bring this new industry to Pennsylvania, and to offer land owners an additional source of income from their land. We are also pleased to be able to provide clean and economical energy to Exelon Power Team during these times of national energy supply concerns.”
Financing for the projects was provided in part by Pennsylvania’s Sustainable Energy Funds, which support renewable and clean energy projects in the state. The Sustainable Development Fund, the Sustainable Energy Fund of Central Eastern Pennsylvania, the GPU Energy Sustainable Energy Fund and the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund are co-investors in the project, providing financial assistance was essential to the projects’ commercial success. As Jeremy Nowak, President and CEO of The Reinvestment Fund, which manages the Sustainable Development Fund in Philadelphia, said “These wind farms represent more than sustainable energy; they represent sustainable community.”
Penn Future and Clean Air Council, statewide environmental advocacy groups based in Harrisburg and, Philadelphia, respectively, provide education to the public about renewable energy choices. John Hanger of Penn Future stated, “My congratulations to Community Energy and all the wonderful institutions that are buying this wind power. They have invested in Pennsylvania and made possible clean energy that will fight dirty air, acid rain, and global warming while improving our energy security and independence.”
Joseph Minott of Clean Air Council stated, “Today, Pennsylvania families and businesses are healthier, safer, and stronger thanks to the people who brought us these two new wind farms. This is the kind of visionary leadership America needs and everyone can support, and tomorrow, work begins in earnest to build more pollution-free wind farms. Clean Air Council urges all Pennsylvania consumers, big and small, to buy wind energy to meet their electricity needs.”
Wind energy is the world’s fastest growing form of electricity generation, meeting the growing demand for clean renewable energy. Wind turbines generate electricity with no emissions and no fuel at prices slightly above current generation costs. In addition to the environmental benefits, wind generation can offer stable twenty-year prices because it is not subject to fuel price risks. Longer-term contracts offer the best price. Many analysts have pinpointed short-term contracts and skyrocketing fuel prices as key components to the dramatic collapse of electricity deregulation in California.
More information on the new wind farms, statements from the groups announcing their purchases today, and information on how to purchase wind energy is available on the web at http://www.newwindenergy.com