Grande Prairie wind project comes online in Nebraska

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

The facility recently went online and began selling power into the Southwest Power Pool 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 percent of the 400 MW Grand Prairie will produce. This will bring the utility closer to its goal of having 30 percent 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 2 MW 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.

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