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Report: 685 MW of Wind and Solar Projects Added to US Renewable Energy Portfolio in January

March 8, 2022 by Dan McCue
One of EDRP's many wind farm projects. (Photo via EDRP)

NEW YORK — The United States’ capacity to generate energy from renewable resources grew by a new 685 megawatts in January thanks to the completion of one major wind farm and several solar projects, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

Just over half of the new capacity was solar, with 375 MW brought online. One wind project provided 303 MW. 

Lastly, three small fuel cell energy units came online, adding 7.2 MW. 

As a result, eight new power generating units were added to the grid at the start of the year, and, just as importantly, no plants were shut down during the month.

In addition, power plant developers announced 3,072 MW in new projects in January, the biggest being MidAmerican Energy Co.’s 2,042-MW Wind PRIME project proposed in Iowa. 

Also announced in January were six energy storage projects — all of them located in California — totaling 980 MW. 

Two of the energy storage units are expected to come online in the second half of 2023. The other announced projects are anticipated to come online in 2024.

Completed Projects

The 303-MW Caddo Wind Farm in Caddo County, Oklahoma, was the largest single project completed in January and the only wind project completed, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. 

The facility is owned by ALLETE Inc. subsidiary ALLETE Clean Energy Inc. and bumped the company’s total wind capacity over 1,300 MW. 

The plant’s output is contracted through a virtual power purchase agreement to McDonald’s Corp. for 200 MW, with 100 MW supplying Hormel Foods Corp. and Oshkosh Corp. through separate contracts.

“Caddo is a prime example of how ALLETE Clean Energy helps customers achieve their climate action goals by adding renewable energy to the nation’s power supply,” said ALLETE Clean Energy President Allan Rudeck Jr. in a press release.

McDonald’s joined the United Nations’ Race To Zero campaign in 2021 and has pledged to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Once all of McDonald’s transacted U.S. renewable energy projects are online, including Caddo, the energy generated will be equivalent to over 8,000 U.S. restaurants’ worth of electricity and is expected to contribute to a 22% reduction from the company’s 2015 baseline. 

Hormel Foods recently announced its goal to match 100% of its energy with renewable sourcing by 2030. The Caddo wind site will help the company achieve about 50% of its goal.

Oshkosh Corporation’s sustainability efforts include a goal of a 25% reduction in normalized greenhouse gas emissions at its facilities by 2024 when compared with 2014.

ALLETE Clean Energy acquires, develops and operates clean and renewable energy projects. In doing so it employs a strategic deployment of wind turbines that qualify for the safe harbor provision of federal production tax credits. This approach enables the Caddo facility to produce electricity at low cost.

The company still has an inventory of these safe harbor turbines and is reportedly exploring additional opportunities to put more of them to use.

Caddo and ALLETE Clean Energy’s Diamond Spring Wind site, also in Oklahoma and reportedly serving Fortune 500 companies, are the company’s two largest wind sites at 303 MW each. 

Together, they are estimated to produce enough energy to power about 210,000 homes. 

The 200-MW Riverstart Solar Park in Randolph County, Indiana, was the next-largest addition. 

The plant’s two largest owners include financial investor Desjardins Group and the Canadian investment firm Connor, Clark & Lunn Financial Group Ltd. 

The output will be sold to Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative Inc. under a long-term contract. EDP Renováveis SA developed the project before it sold a majority stake to Connor, Clark & Lunn.

Three fuel cell units came online in January at the Brookhaven Town Landfill Fuel Cell plant in Suffolk County, New York. The capacity is fully contracted under a 20-year power purchase agreement with the Long Island Power Authority.

Coming Down the Pike

Without a doubt, MidAmerican’s 2,042-MW wind farm, called Wind PRIME, topped the list of announced projects in January. 

In a filing with the Iowa Utilities Board, MidAmerican said the project would add 2,042 MW of wind generation and 50 MW of solar generation.

The company also proposed conducting feasibility studies focused on other clean generation technologies, including carbon capture, energy storage and small modular nuclear reactors.

In addition, company officials said, Wind PRIME will continue MidAmerican’s long history of supporting Iowa communities and advancing the state’s position as a leader in renewable energy. 

Since 2004, the company has invested approximately $14 billion in renewable energy projects across Iowa.

“Iowa is a renewable energy leader, thanks in large part to MidAmerican Energy’s proven track record of clean energy commitments and investments that are a true competitive advantage for our state,” Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said.

“MidAmerican’s Wind PRIME is a commitment and investment on a whole new level, cementing Iowa’s clean energy leadership for many years to come. Beyond that, though, the company’s commitment to study and pursue emerging clean energy technologies will help Iowa meet the growing demand for a sustainable economy that manages our carbon footprint,” she said.

Wind PRIME, MidAmerican’s 13th renewable energy generation development project, is aptly named to both convey that now is the prime time to embark on this opportunity, and to reflect that although wind is an essential component, the project also includes solar energy generation and the examination of new clean energy technologies that will be an important part of the net-zero transition.

“As MidAmerican continues to progress toward delivering 100% renewable energy to our customers, we are also preparing to meet an important milestone of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions,” Kelcey Brown, president and CEO of MidAmerican, said. “The Wind PRIME project will position us and our customers for a sustainable future, while ensuring we continue to deliver affordable and reliable energy.”

Arevon Energy Inc.’s proposed 300-MW Nighthawk Energy Storage project in San Diego County, California, was the second-largest announced project in January. 

It is being developed in conjunction with Tenaska Energy Inc. The project is slated to enter service in 2024 and is one of several resources in Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s plan to increase grid reliability and replace retiring natural gas-fired and nuclear capacity. 

The utility in January said it would contract with developers 1,600 MW/6,400 MW hours of storage capacity.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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