Nevada Nuclear Test Site to Host Huge Wind Farm
WASHINGTON, DC, January 18, 2001 (ENS) - Part of a former nuclear weapons testing site in Nevada is being transformed into the nation's second largest wind power facility.
In his last week as Secretary of Energy, Bill Richardson signed an agreement with U.S. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada to build the enormous wind power facility on 664 acres 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, particularly in California and Nevada.
The agreement, signed Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol by Reid and Richardson, links the MNS Wind Company and the Nevada Test Site Development Corporation (NTSDC) in a partnership created to produce energy from the wind at the Nevada Test Site.
MNS Wind Company is a partnership being negotiated between M&N Wind Power of La Jolla, California and Siemens Energy & Automation, Inc. of Atlanta, Georgia.
"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.
Reid played a key role in obtaining the easement on the property for the NTSDC, a nonprofit corporation that works with the Department of Energy to promote the growth of science and technology in Nevada.
Larger than the state of Rhode Island, the Nevada Test Site covers 1,350-square-miles. Prior to the signing of the Limited Test Ban Treaty on August 5, 1963, which banned atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons, the Department's predecessor agencies conducted more than 1,100 above ground nuclear tests at the Nevada Test Site.
The test site has also partnered with the Nevada Test Site Development Corporation to produce energy from renewable sources.
"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 of the 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: sun, wind, biomass, and geothermal energy located throughout the United States.
With the Nevada Test Site wind farm project in place, 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 of electricity. 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.
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.