Building on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which calls for steady, responsible steps to reduce carbon pollution, the Energy Department today broke ground on the nation’s largest federally-owned wind project at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas. Once completed, this five-turbine 11.5 MW project will power more than 60 percent of the plant with clean, renewable wind energy and reduce carbon emissions by over 35,000 metric tons per year—equivalent to taking 7,200 cars off the road. The Pantex Plant is the primary site for the assembly, disassembly, and maintenance of the United States’ nuclear weapons stockpile.
Under the Obama Administration, federal agencies have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 15 percent—equivalent to permanently taking 1.5 million cars off the road. To build on this accomplishment, the Administration has established a new goal: the federal government will consume 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020—more than double the current goal of 7.5 percent.
“As the largest energy user in the country, the federal government has a tremendous opportunity to lead by example in taking actions to improve energy efficiency and increase renewable energy usage to save taxpayers dollars and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman. “Responsible development of America’s wind energy resources is a critical part of our all-of-the-above energy strategy, and the Pantex wind project furthers our commitment to lead by example and to advance a cleaner, more sustainable energy future.”
Located on 1,500 acres east of the Pantex Plant, the wind farm will generate approximately 47 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually – more than 60 percent of the annual electricity used for Pantex, or enough electricity to power nearly 3,500 homes. The project is expected to complete construction and start generating electricity in summer 2014.
Siemens will construct the wind farm under a performance-based contract that uses long-term energy savings to pay for the project costs, avoiding upfront costs to taxpayers. In 2011, President Obama challenged federal agencies to enter into $2 billion worth of performance-based contracts within two years. Federal agencies have since committed to a pipeline of nearly $2.3 billion from over 300 reported projects, including the Pantex wind project.
Last week, the Energy Department released two new reports showcasing record growth across the U.S. wind market, increasing America’s share of clean, renewable energy, and for the first time representing the number one source of new U.S. electricity generation capacity. The 2012 Wind Technologies Market Report found that Texas is the country’s largest and fastest growing market. With 12,214 MW of total wind capacity installed at the end of last year, Texas has more than twice as much wind power capacity as the next highest state and more wind capacity than all but five countries worldwide.
The Energy Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration worked with interagency partners, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as Texas Tech University to launch this project.