The partnership is the latest phase of a project that started in 1999 when Global Winds investigated the potential of wind farm development in the Dakotas. “Everyone knows the Dakotas have an excellent wind resource,” Wilen said. “In fact, the Department of Energy rates North Dakota as having the highest wind resource in the United States, enough to provide 36% of our nation’s energy.”
Furthermore, Wilen said, “From the many discussions that we have had with landowners and local government over the past 3 years, we have learned that people want wind turbines on their property. In today’s depressed farm economy, wind development allows the farmer to gain a ‘second crop’ and this land can still be farmed or ranched!”
Wilen also mentioned other benefits of wind farms for the local communities, such as increased employment and tax revenue. GWH and UPC submitted a joint bid last month to Northern States Power/Xcel Energy for two different wind power projects in the Dakotas totaling 480 MW’s. When built, the projects will be among the largest in the country. Interconnection for the projects will occur at two high tension power lines located in Dickey County. The project has applied for interconnection into the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO) and Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) transmission systems. The interconnection studies with MISO and WAPA have commenced.
Both Global Winds and UPC have extensive experience in wind farm development. Global Winds is currently developing a further 1,000 MW of wind farm projects in eight states, and draws on the experience of its principals, who have developed over 300 MW of successful wind power projects. UPC, founded by the principals of Cannon Power Corporation of Tehachipi, California - one of the earliest and most successful U.S. wind power companies - has projects in operation or development all over the world. In March 2000, UPC realized the world's largest project financing for wind power. At almost $400 million, the financing broke all previous records for the amount of money raised in a single financing involving wind power. Caffyn ascribes UPC's success to a variety of factors. "Unlike some large utilities which have gotten into the wind business recently, wind power has always been our focus." Caffyn said that UPC is not only the wind project developer, but also an owner and operator. "Because we have a long term strategy, local partnerships are very important to us. We are very proud of our track record with local landowners and other community stakeholders. It is a big part of the reason we have been so successful," Caffyn said.