FAIRMONT — Bluestem Energy Solutions is nearing completion of its 6.9-megawatt wind energy installation in Fillmore County. The company expects the final turbine at the site to be completely constructed in early July.
Once the project is commissioned — the final step in the process that includes electrical testing and engineering inspection — three 2.3-megawatt General Electric turbines will be feeding clean electricity onto Perennial Public Power District’s distribution system. Commissioning is expected to be complete by the third quarter of 2018.
“More commercial and industrial customers want to decrease their carbon footprint and one way to do that is to use renewable energy to power their facilities,” said Mitch Hyde, project engineer at Bluestem. “Our distribution-connected projects allow power companies to offer renewable energy to their customers without losing any load.”
The distribution-connected generation project is the central feature of the public-private partnership between Perennial and Bluestem, which is expected to drive economic development well beyond the construction phase.
For example, Perennial serves power to an ethanol plant near the village of Fairmont; wind energy from the Bluestem project will allow the ethanol producer to sell fuel to buyers in California and other states at a premium, thanks to cap-and-trade-style programs designed to cut carbon emissions.
Bluestem Vice President Adam Herink said the decision by Perennial to buy clean energy from Bluestem is a shrewd move given the rapid spread of distributed energy resources and lower costs to build them. A power purchase agreement between the two organizations locks in a fixed rate over a 25-year period for electricity generated at the Fairmont site.
“Behind-the-meter generation by retail customers will happen,” Herink said of customers’ ability to generate their own electricity. “Perennial took ownership of their situation, remained the energy expert, and did not lose a customer.”
Boyd Jones Construction is the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the project.
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