Thanks in part to rising demand from utilities, many of which are beginning to aggressively shift generation capacity to renewable energy sources, Apex Clean Energy is on track to have its best year ever.
After leading the nation in wind capacity additions in 2015, we anticipate commercialization of 1.5 gigawatts of wind energy in 2017, and an additional 2 gigawatts each year through 2020. But we’re still just scratching the surface, and we anticipate our work will only continue to grow well into the next decade.
Combined with increasingly positive economics, the reasons why utilities are turning to Apex is based on a process years in the making. Our project development strategy focuses on what utilities prioritize most, including access to transmission, exceptional wind resources, and building strong and lasting community relationships.
During the last week of September, partnerships with two major utilities in the Midcontinent ISO were announced, highlighting our momentum.
First, Minnesota-based Xcel Energy acquired Dakota Range I and II. This 300-megawatt project, located in northeast South Dakota, represents just the first phase of Dakota Range Wind. Apex continues to develop Dakota Range III & IV, a 400-megawatt wind farm with commercial operations expected to start in 2020.
Ben Fowke, chairman, president, and CEO of Xcel Energy, cited the transaction as contributing to “a milestone for our industry and our customers.”
Just days later, Apex closed a transaction with Iowa-based Interstate Power and Light Company, an Alliant Energy Corporation subsidiary, for the purchase of Upland Prairie Wind. The 300-megawatt project in northwest Iowa adds to Alliant’s already impressive portfolio of renewable energy facilities.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of Apex’s role as a strong community partner, especially as utilities work to enhance their corporate citizenship.
Doug Kopp, president of Alliant Energy’s Iowa energy company, also noted the economic development that wind brings to rural communities. “This project will add millions of dollars in additional property taxes to the local communities and lease payments to the landowners.”
It’s hard to overstate the importance of Apex’s role as a strong community partner, especially as utilities work to enhance their corporate citizenship. Even when a wind project is popular with a community, investments must be made to build open and honest relationships starting with proactive and transparent communications.
This process creates a lasting “goodwill dividend” that can yield mutual benefits for decades to come. Community support is becoming a hallmark of Apex projects across the country.
As we look ahead to a fast-paced close to 2017 and even more growth in the years ahead, we see potential for further utility partnerships in regions across the country, benefiting thousands of rural families in the process. It’s an integral part of achieving our mission.