Secretary Richardson Signs Agreement to Build 2nd Largest Wind Energy Project in the United States

January 17, 2001

John B. Townsend II, 202/586-5806
January 17, 2001

California and Nevada Will Benefit from More Stable Energy Supplies

WASHINGTON, DC -- Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson and U.S. Senator Harry Reid (Nev.) today signed an agreement to build the second largest wind power facility in the United States on a portion of the Nevada Test Site (NTS), 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The agreement, paves the way for transforming the test site into a renewable energy facility that will help stabilize volatile utility supplies for both consumers and the government.

"This clean, renewable energy project will result in the second largest wind power farm in the United States," said Secretary Richardson. "The wind farm will be generating energy by the end of the year and will help increase energy supplies in California and other areas suffering from energy shortages. It also will benefit taxpayers by helping cut the Department of Energy's energy costs."

The agreement signed at the U.S. Capitol by Secretary Richardson and Senator Reid links the MNS Wind Company and the NTS Development Corporation (NTSDC) in a partnership created to produce energy from the wind at NTS. MNS Wind Company is a partnership being negotiated between M&N Wind Power of La Jolla, Calif. and Siemens Energy & Automation, Inc. of Atlanta, Ga.

"The time is right to embrace new forms of clean energy and Nevada is the right location to build a pollution-free wind farm that will serve as a source for that much needed power," said Senator Reid. "We should all learn from California's experience with electricity deregulation and begin work now to make these changes, before deregulation takes place. As demand for power continues to increase in California, Nevada and elsewhere, additional sources of electricity must be developed. This wind farm will aid in increasing those available power supplies, without endangering the health of the surrounding environment."

Senator Reid played a key role in obtaining the easement on the property for the NTSDC. The NTSDC is a nonprofit corporation that works with the Department of Energy (DOE) to promote the growth of science and technology in Nevada. Last month, DOE and NTSDC agreed to make 664 acres available for the wind farm. The NTS ceased nuclear weapons testing in 1992. Since that time, the Energy Department has performed subcritical experiments and also partnered with the NTSDC in an effort to produce energy from renewable sources at the site.

"There are many locations across the country where use of wind and solar power makes sense. The Nevada Test Site is just one of them," said General John Gordon, Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). "As the Owner-Operator of the Test Site, we are glad to be able to cooperate in this project that is fully consistent with long-term NNSA missions."

The NTS wind turbine project furthers Secretary Richardson's commitment to have the Energy Department begin purchasing three percent of its electricity from "green" power facilities. Green power comes from four clean, natural, inexhaustible sources: sun, wind, biomass, and geothermal energy located throughout the United States. With today's commitment, the department will meet its 2005 renewable energy goal of three percent two years early. The department has also committed to purchasing 7.5 percent of its electricity from non-hydro renewable energy sources by 2010.

The first phase of the three-phase project calls for at least 120 wind turbines to be operational by the end of 2001 and supply 85 megawatts. It is enough power to supply 85,000 people from some of the nation's fastest growing communities, including Nevada and California. The other two phases of the project will be developed 18 months after the first phase is completed.

Following those two installations, the wind farm will have 325 wind turbines producing 260 megawatts of electricity or enough to supply power for 260,000 people. The project also will create jobs for 150-200 construction workers and about 30 maintenance and operating jobs.

The wind farm will contribute to the ability of the department's Nevada Operations Office to support the national security mission of the NTS. Prorated over the three phases of the project, the wind farm operators will provide DOE's Nevada Operations Office with free energy equivalent to ten percent of its NTS electrical consumption last year.

Potential construction, operation, and maintenance work from the wind farm may also reduce infrastructure and site service costs to DOE programs and other users of the NTS. The Energy Department's green power purchase will stimulate the development of approximately 50 new megawatts of renewable energy sources in the United States.

This purchase also will help encourage the development of renewable power generation by small and disadvantaged businesses, including some owned by Native Americans.

Release No. R-01-014