Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association announced last week the completion of the Colorado Highlands Wind project expansion.
The wind farm added 14 1.7-megawatt GE turbines this year to the existing 42 1.6-mW turbines that came online in December 2012. The expansion has increased the facility's current capacity from 67 mW to 91 mW, a 36-percent increase, the company said Wednesday.
According to the Tri-State release, the company has a 20-year purchasing agreement to receive all the electricity and environmental attributes from the wind farm, located on 6,640 acres between Fleming and Crook. The facility is owned jointly by Alliance Power, Inc. of Littleton and GE Energy Financial Services of Stamford, Conn. Highline Electric Association, a co-op member of Tri-State, serves the area where the wind farm is located.
"Colorado Highlands Wind has been performing extremely well since being brought on-line late last year," Tri-State senior vice president Brad Nebergall said in the written announcement. "Since it was originally designed to accommodate 91 megawatts on the existing transmission system - and since Tri-State is always proactively pursuing projects that make sense for us and our member electric co-ops - the expansion of Colorado Highlands Wind was an opportunity we quickly embraced."
Jim Michael, managing member of Colorado Highlands Wind, was also quoted as saying, "We are pleased to be able to increase the long-term cost-effective renewable energy that our project is generating for Tri-State and its members, while providing other significant benefits to the community."
Construction on the additions began in July after the Logan County Commissioners approved the expansion in April, over the objections of homeowners concerned about the distance between their residences and the turbines.
While some homeowners requested a setback of more than 3,000 feet, the commissioners said the proposed expansion was fair. The company estimated that the closest turbines would be 2,000 feet from homes; the county setback requirement was only 1,000 feet.
Tri-State's combined renewable energy resources make up approximately 18 percent of the energy provided to member co-ops. Colorado Highlands Wind is one of three renewable energy facilities with an exclusive contract with Tri-State; the co-op also purchases electricity and renewable energy credits from Kit Carson Windpower Porject and Cimarron Solar Facility in northeastern New Mexico, along with some renewable hydropower resources. Another 49 mW from community-based projects are in operation or scheduled to come online in the near future, according to the release.