Duke Energy plans 200-MW wind farm on federal land

Posted on March 14, 2013

The U.S. Department of Interior has approved Duke Energy Renewables’ application to build a 200-megawatt wind farm on federal land in Clark County, Nev.

The Searchlight Wind Energy project would be built on about 160 acres located 60 miles southeast of Las Vegas. It would consist of 87 windmills using 2.3-megawatt turbines from Siemens Energy.

Duke Renewables spokeswoman Tammie McGee says the company has not yet negotiated a power purchase agreement to sell the electricity generated by the project.

Ordinarily, Duke (NYSE:DUK) does not discuss projects until a purchase agreement is signed. But in this case, the company applied for permission to build the project on property controlled by the federal Bureau of Land Management.

Scaled back

The project, first proposed in 2009, originally called for 130 wind turbines producing about 300 megawatts. The size of the project was reduced to meet the objections of some landowners in the town of Searchlight.

But the project has remained controversial with some in the area, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal. It reports a protest against the project drew about 50 people last month in the town of 539. Searchlight is the home of U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, who supports the proposed wind farm.

The project, if built, will provide enough electricity to power about 70,000 homes, according to the Bureau of Land Management. It is expected to generate about 275 temporary construction jobs over the eight months or so it would take to build the project.

McGee says Duke is uncertain of the timetable for the project at this time. No construction will start until Duke Renewables has a contract for purchase of the power that the project produces.

The 160 acres set aside for the project is part of a 9,300 acres the bureau manages in Clark County.

John Downey, Charlotte Business Journal.