One source of renewable energy helping another

Basin Electric Power Cooperative and Western Area Power Administration today agreed to a precedent-setting purchase of wind power between the two organizations—just one more way the two utilities are showing their commitment to renewable energy in the West.

The three-year contract provides for Western to purchase the output from an existing 50-megawatt wind farm. The purchase of wind energy, capacity and renewable attributes from Basin Electric’s existing wind generation will help Western offset the effects of prolonged drought in the Missouri River Basin, the area from which both organizations market and deliver power. The short-term contract is effective from Jan. 1, 2010, until Dec. 31, 2012. Renewable attributes refer to the intangible environmental benefits associated with the generation of one megawatt-hour of electric energy by a renewable resource.

“The severe and prolonged drought in the Missouri River Basin has presented many challenges for Western to honor contract commitments to the preference power customers,” said Jody Sundsted, Power Marketing manager for Western’s Upper Great Plains Region. “Our greatest challenge is to purchase replacement energy at the least cost to our customers and also minimize our exposure to short-term market risks.”

Sundsted continued, “After reviewing alternatives in the market, this short-term, three-year purchase from Basin Electric fit very well with our power purchase strategies, helps us meet Western’s contract commitments for power and energy at the lowest costs possible, but at the same time helps further our nation’s goal for increased renewable energy use and development.”

“Basin Electric and Western have a long history of working together,” said Wayne Backman, Basin Electric senior vice president of Generation. “Without a critical agreement almost 50 years ago with the Bureau of Reclamation–Western’s predecessor–Basin Electric would not have been formed. That was the beginning of a relationship with Western that Basin Electric values very much. Since then, we’ve worked together on many projects and the contract to provide Western with wind energy from our existing resources continues that long-term good working relationship,” Backman said.

Basin Electric is a consumer-owned, regional cooperative headquartered in Bismarck. It generates and transmits electricity to 126 member rural electric systems in nine states: Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. These member systems distribute electricity to about 2.6 million consumers. Learn more about Basin at

Western Area Power Administration is a Federal agency that annually markets and transmits more than 10,000 megawatts of power from hydroelectric powerplants owned and operated by the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 15 western and central states. It is part of the Department of Energy. Learn more about Western at

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