Three generation and transmission cooperatives announced the purchase of 40 megawatts of wind energy from the Pioneer Trail Wind Farm, which is under development east of Paxton, IL. The three member-owned G&Ts, Prairie Power, Inc., Southern Illinois Power Cooperative and Wabash Valley Power Association are entering into an 18-year power purchase agreement with E.ON Climate & Renewable North America, Inc. The agreement was coordinated through the National Renewables Cooperative Organization (NRCO), which was formed to promote and facilitate the development of economically viable renewable energy resources for its member cooperatives across the United States.
Amadou Fall, CEO of NRCO, praised the three member G&Ts as examples of the cooperative principles that guide the organizations. "In keeping with the NRCO model, these cooperatives have come together to leverage buying power on behalf of their customers. This project is yet another example of how NRCO helps its members interact in the marketplace for the benefit of all." Rick Coons, CEO of Wabash Valley Power, said the purchase agreement illustrates the commitment made by electric cooperatives to provide affordable, reliable energy while continuing to support alternative fuel sources. "Working with NRCO has facilitated our ability to find alternative energy projects that meet the economic standards we've established," explained Coons. "We are committed to expanding our alternative energy resources, but we have to do so in a manner that is still affordable for the co-op members who count on us. NRCO has vastly assisted our ability to meet those goals."
Jay Bartlett, CEO of Prairie Power, said the state's cooperatives have taken a conservative but long term approach to renewable energy. He said, "The cooperatives are purchasing both the energy and renewable energy credits (RECs) produced by this project over a long period of time. This provides the renewable energy system developers like E.ON with a steady source of revenue to finance the construction of additional renewable energy projects in Illinois. We believe this is very good for our co-op members, the environment and wind energy development in Illinois. We are looking for cost effective projects, like the Pioneer Trail Wind Farm, that ensure positive long term environmental and economic benefits, and assist us in maintaining affordable and stable rates." Scott Ramsey, CEO of Southern Illinois Power Cooperative, said the G&T was one of the founding members of the National Renewables Cooperative Organization and has been looking for several years for the right partner and the right renewable energy contract. "E.ON is a solid and reputable company that has global wind energy development and operational experience. They were in a position to offer us a competitively priced renewable energy contract. After doing the necessary due diligence we determined that now is the time and this is the contract that we have been looking for." The project is expected to create 200 construction jobs, ten full time jobs, and more than $1.6 million in tax revenue to support the local county and school system.