PUEBLO — Black Hills Energy took a significant step forward in meeting the state’s renewable energy mandate for electric utilities with the commencement this week of commercial operations of its Busch Ranch Wind Project.
“The Busch Ranch Wind Project further demonstrates our commitment to providing safe, reliable energy to southern Colorado while observing Colorado’s renewable portfolio standards,” said David R. Emery, Black Hills Corporation chairman, president and chief executive officer.
“The project complements our recently completed, 380 MW Pueblo Airport Generation Station that uses state-of-the-art natural gas fired technology to provide reliable base load power for customers and back up intermittent energy resources such as wind. Our new resource portfolio will continue to ensure our customers receive the safe, reliable energy they’ve come to expect.”
The 29-megawatt Busch Ranch Wind Project is sited 30 miles south of Pueblo, Colo., in Huerfano County. It consists of 16 Vestas wind turbines and represents Black Hills Energy’s first Colorado wind project. The project will connect to the utility’s 94,000 electric customers with 36 miles of new transmission lines. One megawatt of wind generation provides enough energy to supply approximately 500 homes, but due to the intermittent nature of wind, it must be combined with the gas-fired Pueblo Airport Generation Station to provide a reliable energy supply.
“As we incorporate renewable resources into the supply of energy to our customers, the benefits of our recent investments in new natural gas generation and transmission infrastructure continue to be validated,” said Christopher Burke, vice president of Colorado utility operations for Black Hills Energy.
“This project places us one step closer to complying with Colorado’s Renewable Energy Standard and by the end of 2013, Black Hills Energy’s electric resource portfolio will have one of the lowest carbon footprints in the state of Colorado.”
The Colorado Public Utilities Commission approved the Busch Ranch Wind Project in 2011, allowing Black Hills Energy to construct and own 50 percent of the project. AltaGas Renewable Energy Colorado LLC was selected as the participant after a competitive bid process and co-owns the wind project with Black Hills Energy. Black Hills Energy will be responsible for daily operations at the facility.
The Huerfano County site was selected for its abundant wind resources and relative proximity to Black Hills Energy’s Colorado electric service territory. Construction began in late first quarter 2012 and was completed Oct. 11, 2012.