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Oct 25, 2019

Acciona agrees to partner with Nebraska firm to build solar across various states, including Oklahoma

Oklahoman | October 25, 2019

Completed turbines are seen in 2003 at the under-construction Blue Canyon Wind Farm in the Wichita Mountains. [OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES]

Completed turbines are seen in 2003 at the under-construction Blue Canyon Wind Farm in the Wichita Mountains. [OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES]

Acciona is growing its renewable energy footprint across Oklahoma and other parts of the country.

The Spanish company recently announced a deal with Nebraska-based renewable energy developer to buy a portfolio of projects the latter had been working on that includes about 3,000 megawatts of utility-scale solar and another 1,000 megawatts of projects that combine solar and battery storage.

Officials said the transaction includes 20 solar projects in the PJM Interconnection and Southwest Power Pool markets that are planned to be built in Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.

On Monday, a spokesman for the company said Oklahoma’s share of potential projects could add 120 megawatts of solar capacity to what already is installed or planned within the state.

The spokesman also said Acciona is examining whether to add energy storage to those locations.

Emerging battery technology allows for the storage of energy generated by renewable sources that can be dispatched onto the grid whenever the power is needed.

A spokesman for Acciona said the company has been involved in renewable energy projects inside of Oklahoma since 2004, when it bought ownership in the 74-megawatt Blue Canyon Wind Farm near Lawton — its first renewable energy initiative in the U.S.

It has operated wind farms in Oklahoma since 2009, when it brought its 123-megawatt Red Hills Wind Farm near Elk City online.

In 2012, it commissioned the 132-megawatt Dempsey Ridge Wind Farm that covers parts of Roger Mills and Beckham Counties.

During the past decade, Red Hills has sponsored a scholarship program that has awarded $50,000 to college-bound students, the spokesman said, noting that Acciona has social impact management policy requiring a community benefits program be developed for each of its projects.

Company officials stated in their announcement that Acciona’s deal with Tenaska is an excellent opportunity for it to build upon its U.S. wind energy projects.

Rafael Esteban, CEO of Acciona’s North America Energy Division, said the company plans to continue working with Tenaska through its solar development business to bring the projects involved in their deal online between 2021 and 2023.

Tenaska’s solar ventures leader, Steve Johnson, said his company is excited by the agreement because it pairs its development expertise with Acciona’s construction capabilities.

“This transaction highlights Tenaska’s ability to monetize our team’s knowledge and skill sets while operating under various development models,” Johnson stated.

Including Acciona’s Oklahoma wind projects, the company’s portfolio of operating and under-construction wind farms in North America totals about 1,245 megawatts. Acciona also owns and operates the 64-megawatt Nevada Solar One concentrated solar plant outside of Las Vegas.

Tenaska, which stated its gross operating revenues were about $12 billion in 2018, has developed approximately 10,500 megawatts of natural gas-fueled and renewables power projects that include solar and wind, officials said.