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TPP Member With $140 million deal, Constellation turns to wind

Published: 04 Dec 2009

From The Business Gazette

Constellation Energy is expanding its renewable energy portfolio by acquiring its first wind project: a $140 million, 70-megawatt proposed wind turbine project in Western Maryland's Garrett County.

The Baltimore energy company said Monday it has agreed to purchase the project from Clipper Windpower. Constellation plans to develop, build, own and operate the Criterion complex, which it says will provide enough electricity to power about 23,000 homes.

The deal includes 28 of Clipper's 2.5-megawatt wind turbines, according to a Constellation statement. The project was the first in Maryland to receive state regulatory approval under a 2007 law promoting wind energy.

"We have been pursuing a number of renewable projects in Maryland in recent years," said spokesman Lawrence McDonnell. "We have looked at wind and the economics are now falling into place. It's more viable now ... and now wind is becoming more financially doable, in terms of the cost to produce it and then sell it at a market price."

The Criterion project has a 20-year power purchase agreement with Old Dominion Electric Cooperative for the project's electricity and renewable energy credits. Old Dominion, a nonprofit, provides wholesale power to public electric cooperatives in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia.

"Constellation Energy remains committed to pursuing clean, green energy generation and conservation projects in Maryland," said Mayo A. Shattuck III, Constellation chairman, president and CEO, in a statement. "These projects have the potential to produce high-paying construction jobs while increasing and diversifying energy supply in the state of Maryland. The Criterion project is an ideal example of the kind of innovative and sustainable energy project that can help Maryland meet its ambitious renewable energy objectives."

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2010, with operations planned to begin next fall.

The Criterion project is one of several Constellation renewable energy initiatives. Among them are a solar photovoltaic system at Sparks spice maker McCormick & Co. that can generate nearly 1 megawatt, plus a 300-kilowatt solar system for the Maryland Environmental Service.

All told, about 4 percent of Constellation's electricity is generated from renewable and alternative sources, including solar, geothermal, hydro, waste coal and biomass, according to its most recent annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Slightly more than half of its 7,100 megawatts of electricity comes from its five nuclear reactors, including two at its plant in Calvert Cliffs in Southern Maryland.

Clipper Windpower, with offices in Carpinteria, Calif., and the U.K., designs and manufactures wind turbines at its plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It also develops wind power projects in the Americas and Europe.

Alternative energy to fuel International Model Green City

Also on Monday, American Community Properties Trust launched an effort to make St. Charles, its flagship 9,100-acre planned community in Charles County, what it calls "the most comprehensive smart green community development project in the United States today."

The initiative calls for Competitive Power Ventures of Silver Spring to buy 75 acres for a 10-megawatt solar farm, making it the largest such facility in the mid-Atlantic region, according to ACPT information. Plans also include a 640-megawatt natural gas powered power plant, plus electricity from renewable sources at the county landfill.

Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative has sought state approval to install and test 1,000 smart meters at existing homes and businesses in St. Charles. SMECO and St. Charles have also begun installing programmable thermostats in up to 2,500 apartments.

"Our vision is to make St. Charles the international model for 21st century smart green and growing communities," said Steve Griessel, CEO of ACPT, in a statement. "The transformational effect that will occur from our efforts will double St. Charles in size but actually lower today's carbon footprint and water usage for the community. This transformation will enable 40 percent of Charles County's population to live on approximately 2 percent of its land mass, making St. Charles truly a smart, green, and growing community."

The plan includes retrofitting more than 12,000 existing homes and 4 million square feet of existing commercial space; creating 20,000 jobs through a Green Jobs Opportunity Zone, including 1,000 new jobs in the next three years toward Maryland's goal to create 100,000 green jobs statewide; making St. Charles an "international living laboratory for new technologies, products and services and sharing the results of programs with the world;" and working with universities and colleges to create a green campus, research and development park, and business incubator.

Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), who attended the launch on Monday, said in a statement: "In Maryland, we are focused on New Ideas for New Jobs — connecting the challenges and opportunities of a workforce that leads in science, security and skills."


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