Courtesy of MCT
Ohio State took a step toward purchasing enough wind energy to power 25 percent of campus’ electricity needs.
The university announced Oct. 1 that it signed a letter of intent with Iberdrola Renewables to purchase 50 megawatts of wind energy capacity.
According to Clean Energy Authority, a website that provides energy information, one megawatt hour is about equivalent to the amount of electricity used by about 330 homes in one hour.
Richard Potter, senior energy adviser of the Office of Energy and Environment, said the cost of the agreement was not yet available, but that the money to pay for it would come from a “utility fund that’s part of our operating budget.” Potter said the contract should be finalized by Oct. 22, and the university should start receiving energy by mid November.
“Once the contract is done, it takes a few weeks to what they call ‘schedule the wind into the market,’ and we want to have the wind by November,” Potter said.
For the next 20 years, OSU is expected to receive energy from the Blue Creek Wind Farm, located in Van Wert and Paulding counties, in Ohio, according to a university press release. The counties are more than two hours away from campus.
Iberdrola Renewables, headquartered in Portland, Ore., is the U.S. renewable energy division of parent company IBERDROLA, S.A., according to a press release. IBERDROLA, S.A. is the largest renewable asset base of any company in the world.
Gina Langen, spokeswoman for OSU’s Office of Energy and Environment, said this was a “direct buy” of energy from the wind farm, which was different because usually the biggest purchasers are utility companies.
“From a wind farm, oftentimes the biggest purchasers are energy companies where they will purchase it and send it on,” Langen said. “In this case, we are the largest direct non-utility purchaser, from our research. No other entity, no other university, has bought this large of a purchase of wind energy that didn’t first go to a utility.”
Potter said the university switched from American Electric Power Ohio to AEP Energy in September, which will help save an estimated $7 million over the next two years, and those savings will help pay for the wind energy.
AEP Ohio and AEP Energy declined to comment specifically about OSU’s switch and savings, but Melissa McHenry, an AEP Energy spokeswoman, said the company was pleased about the switch.
The wind energy will be delivered from Iberdrola Renewables and the Blue Creek Wind Farm to AEP Energy, which will then supply the power to OSU, Potter said. He also said the power from AEP Energy will be the combination of the wind energy and the regular market energy.
Kevin Helmich, director of origination for the Midwest and Northeast regions of Iberdrola Renewables, said the agreement with OSU is “really significant” for the company.
“To have a university step up, it’s really gratifying,” Helmich said. “It is a concrete example of Ohio State’s commitment to sustainability.”
The Blue Creek Wind Farm features 152 Gamesa G90, 2.0 MW wind turbines producing a capacity of 304 megawatts, according to the Iberdrola Renewables website. The wind farm is Ohio’s largest commercial wind project and can power about 76,000 homes annually.
“Our partnership with Iberdrola Renewables and Blue Creek Wind Farm underscores our long-held commitment to sustainability and to the economic future of our state,” said OSU President E. Gordon Gee in the release.
In addition to receiving renewable wind energy, different research opportunities are available for OSU with the agreement. Potter said the most significant is electricity market research because they will have access to real time, up-to-the-second wind production data that researchers aren’t generally entitled to.
“We may find out wind doesn’t have any effect or we may find out wind has a grand effect,” Potter said. “It will be unique research.”