Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC) has reached a long-term agreement to purchase 150 megawatts of wind energy from RES America Developments Inc., a subsidiary of Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. (RES Americas). "The additional 150 megawatts of low-cost wind energy provides AECC with a hedge against fluctuating natural gas energy prices," said Duane Highley, president and chief executive officer of AECC, a Little Rock-based wholesale electricity supplier. "AECC will have 201 megawatts of wind energy in its generation assets with this addition. We will continue to pursue energy options that allow AECC’s member cooperatives to provide reliable electricity at the lowest possible cost."
The wind power will be sourced from the Origin Wind Energy project, which is located in Murray and Carter Counties in southeast Oklahoma. RES Americas developed and will construct the 75-turbine project that is scheduled to begin commercial operation by Dec. 31, 2014. AECC will be the sole recipient of the electricity generated. Early last year, AECC signed a long-term power purchase agreement for 51 MW from the Flat Ridge 2 South Wind Farm in Kansas.
"We are delighted to work with AECC," said Tom Hiester, senior vice president of development with RES Americas. "This purchase demonstrates AECC’s forward-looking approach to diversifying their portfolio, as well as their understanding of the economic benefits that long-term, low-priced wind energy contracts offer to their members."
AECC has a long-term commitment to generation diversity, which began more than 30 years ago with the construction of three run-of-the-river hydroelectric generating stations located along the Arkansas River. AECC is one of the top generation and transmission cooperatives in the nation with assets of more than $1.6 billion. In addition to hydroelectric generation facilities, AECC owns three natural gas/oil-based plants, four natural gas-based-only plants and co-owns portions of four low-cost coal-based plants.
AECC’s agreement was made possible through the National Renewables Cooperative Organization (NRCO), which enables cooperatives nationwide to pool the ownership and benefits of renewable resources. AECC is one of 23 NRCO members. Based in Carmel, Ind., NRCO works on behalf of member cooperatives to facilitate the acquisition of renewable generation assets and assists members in diversifying their energy resource portfolios. For more information on NRCO, visit www.nrco.coop. The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides various services to the distribution cooperatives; and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC), a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to more than 500,000 members, or customers, in Arkansas and surrounding states.