Price buys into wind power
Looking to expand their options for energy, including renewable sources, Price City council members have decided to buy into a possible wind farm project in Idaho.
The project, known as the Horse Butte wind farm, is a planned 50 to 100 megawatt wind farm located 15 miles east of Idaho Falls, Idaho. The potential 100 megawatt farm has participants from other cities in Utah as well as other states including California, which are members of the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems.
With the project still in the funding phase, UAMPS has been actively seeking out cities around the state, including Price City, to discuss the possibility of becoming involved with the Horse Butte project. The wind farm is looking to go into commercial operation in December 2011, with a projected 25-year lifespan, according to Doug Hunter, general manager with UAMPS.
City councilors made a motion to buy one-third of a wind turbine, which would produce 600 kilowatt hours for the city, according to Nick Tatton, Price City community director. There are 1,000 kilowatts in 1 megawatt of power.
The project would be located on 15,000 acres of private land leased from farmers in the area, Hunter said.
The current estimates for the energy created from the wind come in at $64.10 per megawatt hour and 6.4 cents per kilowatt hour, Hunter said. The market for renewable energy is about 9 cents per kilowatt hour, Hunter said.
Once Price City would begin receiving power from the project, the city would then have the option of selling the power to businesses, Tatton said. Businesses in the area have already shown interest in buying the power that would come from the wind farm, he said.
When the project is up and in buying the power that would come from the wind farm, he said.
When the project is up and running, studies have shown that the Horse Butte wind turbines would produce at a level of 32 percent of the time, Hunter explained. At the lowest point, the wind farm would produce at 28 percent and the highest would be around 40 percent, he said.
"It's not a bad capacity factor for a wind project," Hunter said.
Compared to other sources of energy in the state of Utah, the power generated from the wind farm would be less expensive than the natural gas lines based in Utah, Hunter said. But the project would still be more expensive than the current cost of coal power in the state, he said.
At the city council meeting on Aug. 25, Hunter said there were agreements in place to cover 50 megawatts of the project and there would be up to 72 megawatts by Sept. 14.
Because the city has a power contract with Rocky Mountain Power, Councilman Rick Davis said he wanted to make sure the city would still be in compliance with them after entering into the agreement. Tatton said there are some issues that would need to be discussed but he doesn't think that the Horse Butte project would affect their contact with Rocky Mountain Power.
The possible wind farm project has been a couple of years in the making as over a year and a half ago the city backed out of the project when the cost estimates were around $75 to $80, Tatton said. But with the cost of a megawatt hour falling, Price City looked into the project again.
"This project positions the city well to help meet state and federal requirements in the future," Tatton said. "And having a renewable energy source is a positive for the city as well."