Submitted by New Energy News Blog

The Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) is 1 of 4 federal agencies created to manage the power created by the hydroelectric projects built by the federal government.

WAPA has obligations to supply power to a wide range of electricity users. Drought on the Missouri River, now 8 years in duration, has begun to compromise WAPA’s ability to fulfill those obligations. For the first time in its history, WAPA is turning AWAY from coal and TO wind for power.

It is a “precedent setting” way for WAPA to meet its customers’ demands and, more importantly, it is yet another signal of wind power’s coming of age.

Water constraints will, going forward, have a greater and greater impact on how electricity is generated. Planners have already begun to realize that they cannot count on having the enormous supplies of water required by nuclear and coal plants. They have begun to notice that the constraint on water supplies is yet another reason wind and solar energies will be more cost competitive in the foreseeable future.
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WAPA buying wind power from Basin
Blake Nicholson, November 20, 2008 (AP via Chicago Tribune)

The Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) (Carolyn Hinkley, spokeswoman); Basin Electric Power Cooperative; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

WAPA has completed a deal to buy up to 50 megawatts of wind power annually from Basin Electric.

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– The deal between WAPA and Basin Electric runs from 2010 through 2012.
– July 2008: Droughts, ongoing for 8 years, caused hydroelectric power plants on the Missouri River to produce at record low capacities.
– 2008: Total Missouri River hydroelectric output is expected to be 5 billion kilowatt hours, half the normal amount.

– WAPA sells power obtained from 6 plants on the Missouri River in 15 central and western states.
– Basin Electric wind energy-generated electricity will be used to supplement electricity for WAPA Upper Great Plains customers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, Iowa and part of Nebraska.
– Basin Electric Power Cooperative is based in Bismarck, ND.

– Financial details of the power purchase agreement were not released.
– WAPA has traditionally distributed hydroelectric power generated by Missouri River dams.
– Basin Electric works with WAPA to supply 126 member rural electric systems in nine states, which in turn distribute electricity to about 2.6 million consumers.
– Most of Basin’s electric supply is generated by coal but it also owns two wind capacity in South Dakota and buys the output of FPL Energy LLC wind farms in North and South Dakota.
– Basin is in the process of expanding its wind power holdings to 300 megawatts.
– WAPA is considering a 15-year wind purchase agreement with Basin Electric.
– WAPA power purchasers: Cities, rural electric co-ops, American Indian tribes, federal and state agencies, and other nonprofit providers.
– WAPA is 1 of 4 regional power marketing administrations (WAPA, BPA, SWPA and SEPA) within the U.S. Department of Energy.

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– Daryl Hill, spokesman, Basin Electric: “There’s lots of wind going on in our neck of the woods…”
– Jody Sundsted, power market manager, WAPA Upper Great Plains: “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…”
– Wayne Backman, senior vice president of generation, Basin Electric: “Basin Electric and Western have a long history of working together…The contract to provide Western with wind energy … continues that long-term good working relationship.”

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