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Department of Energy Names Virginia and Illinois Electric Cooperatives Wind Co-ops of the Year

March 31, 2014 - 10:31am


A photo graph of three people standing in front of a brown drape.The U.S. Department of Energy and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) recognized Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC) of Virginia and the Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative (RECC) of Illinois with the 2013 Wind Cooperatives of the Year Award at the TechAdvantage 2014 Conference and Expo in Nashville, Tennessee in March. The annual award is given to electric cooperatives that demonstrate outstanding leadership in advancing U.S. wind power. The two power providers were selected by a panel of judges from the wind industry, utilities, government, national laboratories and cooperatives and were evaluated for their corporate leadership, project innovation, and benefits to customers.

ODEC has entered into four separate contracts to purchase capacity, energy and renewable energy credits (RECs) associated with wind turbine projects since 2008, adding more than 260 megawatts of capacity to their existing resource portfolio. As a wholesale power supply cooperative, ODEC generates and procures power to serve the requirements of its eleven member retail cooperatives and resells the RECs it procures to its member cooperatives and third parties.

RECC teamed up with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to provide its 5,800 customers with new sources of energy, while transforming a "brownfield" site into a source of clean, renewable energy. By installing a utility-scale turbine on the elevated section of an abandoned mine, RECC is able to capture a large amount of wind energy that is unavailable at a lower elevation. Wind speeds in central Illinois are typically slower than in northern parts of the state, so the 14-foot, 60-acre tailings pile owned by DNR gives the installation the sufficient height it needs to capture winds strong enough to power a 900-kilowatt turbine.

Several factors enhanced the project's feasibility, including clean renewable energy bond financing, a long-term lease agreement for the site with the DNR, and proximity to an RECC substation.