Pantex wind farm enters operation

A five-turbine, 11.5MW wind farm has begun operation at the primary US facility for the assembly, disassembly and maintenance of nuclear weapons east of Amarillo, Texas.

The Pantex Renewable Energy Project (PREP) is the largest wind farm owned by the federal government and will generate more than 60% of the electricity needs at the facility.

Construction was carried out under a unique finance model known as an Energy Savings Performance Contract, which allows contractor Siemens Government Technologies, Inc., to build PREP with no upfront cost to taxpayers.

Siemens will be paid directly from the value of guaranteed energy savings generated by the turbines, an amount expected to average $2.8m annually.

The five turbines, each 400 feet tall, were built on federal land adjacent to the main Pantex plant. Erection of the wind towers was completed early this year, and crews have since been working to connect the turbines into the plant’s electricity grid.

PREP will serve as the keystone for an ongoing collaboration with Texas Tech University (TTU) to make Pantex a leader in innovation within the wind energy sector.

TTU and the NNSA Production Office (NPO) recently signed a memorandum of understanding that would combine the resources of the US Energy Department and its National Nuclear Security Administration, Pantex and TTU’s National Wind Institute to study ways to create a world-class energy research center at Pantex.

The White House says since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009, federal agencies have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 15% – equivalent to permanently taking 1.5 million cars off the road.

To build on this accomplishment, Obama has established a new goal: the federal government will consume 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 – more than double the current target of 7.5%.