Two co-ops honored for leadership in wind energy; WINDPOWER 2014 program focuses on utilities

14 March 2014 by Carl Levesque Carl Levesque

The U.S. Department of Energy and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) recently recognized Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC) of Virginia and the Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative (RECC) of Illinois as the 2013 Wind Cooperatives of the Year.

The awards were presented at the TechAdvantage 2014 Conference and Expo in Nashville, Tenn., to honor electric cooperatives that demonstrate outstanding leadership in advancing U.S. wind power. The two power providers were selected by a panel of judges from the wind industry, utilities, government, national laboratories and cooperatives.

“Rural Electric Co-operative utilities are situated on some of the richest wind energy resources in the U.S.,” noted AWEA’s Jeff Anthony, who works with utilities across the country to educate them on wind power issues while working to serve the needs of AWEA’s utility members. “I have had the honor to be a judge for this award for several years now, and by recognizing what some of the leading rural electric co-ops are doing, we hope to bring along other similar utilities who, along with their customers, can benefit from this fixed-priced and low-cost source of electricity.”  

The co-operative utilities that are locking in long-term power purchase agreements for their customers, or building small or large wind projects themselves, are paving the way for others to do the same. Recognizing that utilities are the users and deliverers of wind-energy, AWEA will continue to look for opportunities to recognize the leading wind energy utilities of all kinds.

The next opportunity to do so is coming up at the WINDPOWER 2014 Conference & Exhibition in May, via a series of educational programs and sessions designed just for utility attendees.  In fact, AWEA has planned an entire roadmap of activities for utilities attending the event this year. Better still: utilities that are members of AWEA can attend WINDPOWER for free; utilities interested in this option should contact AWEA at utility@awea.org.

As for the Co-op of the Year winners, ODEC has entered into four separate contracts to purchase capacity, energy and renewable energy credits (RECs) associated with wind turbine projects since 2008, adding more than 260 megawatts of capacity to their existing resource portfolio.  As a wholesale power supply cooperative, ODEC generates and procures power to serve the requirements of its eleven member retail cooperatives and resells the RECs it procures to its member cooperatives and third parties.

RECC teamed up with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to provide its 5,800 customers with new sources of energy, while transforming a “brownfield” site into a source of clean, renewable energy. By installing a utility-scale turbine on the elevated section of an abandoned mine, RECC is able to capture a large amount of wind energy that is unavailable at a lower elevation.