Spanning farm fields in Pasquotank and Perquimans counties, the Amazon Wind Farm US East, powered by Avangrid Renewables at Desert Wind, is now the first commercial-scale wind farm in North Carolina and one of the first in the southeastern United States. The facility reached full commercial operation this month and began delivering power in December 2016. It features 104 modern wind turbines that will produce enough energy to power the equivalent of approximately 61,000 U.S. homes each year.
“We are delighted to add the Amazon Wind Farm US East to our growing portfolio of renewable power generation facilities, which are providing clean energy for companies and communities across the United States,” said James P. Torgerson, President and CEO of Avangrid Renewables’ parent company, AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR). “We are committed to our vision of leading the transformation of the U.S. energy industry by developing, building and operating the clean energy infrastructure of the future.”
The 18-month construction put more than 30 North Carolina-based companies to work, featured a peak of more than 500 workers, and resulted in more than $18 million spent locally by Avangrid Renewables. The total of landowner payments and taxes will begin injecting more than $1.1 million into the local economy each year.
“Almost everyone in the community knows someone who worked on the wind farm, sold or rented something that helped build the wind farm, or owns land where the project was built,” said Cecil Perry, Chairman of the Pasquotank County Board of Commissioners. “These jobs, and this nearly $400 million investment in a rural part of North Carolina, are welcome — everyone in the county will benefit from the long-term property tax payments.”
The wind farm’s daily operation comprises a permanent crew of 17 on-site technicians, led by U.S. Army veteran and North Carolina native Chris Long.
As the result of a contract with Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS), an Amazon.com company, the energy generated will be delivered into the electrical grid that supplies both current and future AWS Cloud data centers. AWS has a long-term commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy usage for their global infrastructure footprint.
“At the close of 2016 we announced that AWS had exceeded 40% renewable energy and set a new goal to achieve 50% by the end of 2017 in a continued march toward our long-term commitment of achieving 100% renewable energy usage for our global infrastructure footprint,” said Nat Sahlstrom, Director of AWS Energy Strategy. “We’re very excited that Amazon Wind Farm US East is live and delivering energy to the grid powering our current and future AWS data centers and are excited to continue to accelerate our work in this space.”
“Farms have been growing corn, soybeans, and wheat for a long time here, and the wind farm revenue means a lot of families are protected from pricing swings, floods or droughts going forward,” said Horace Pritchard, one of nearly 60 landowners associated with the project. “We’re just adding another locally-grown crop to our fields, with very little ground taken out of production, and the improved roads really help with access, so it’s a great fit here.”
“Expanding the wind industry into North Carolina came about thanks in large part to collaboration with AWS, a supportive community, and improving technology,” said Frank Burkhartsmeyer, Avangrid Renewables’ U.S. CEO. “Ultimately, a wind farm this size has to offer competitive energy and complement the existing use of the land, so the strong winds and farmland here made for a great match.”
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About AVANGRID: AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR) is a diversified energy and utility company with more than $30 billion in assets and operations in 25 states. The company operates regulated utilities and electricity generation through two primary lines of business. Avangrid Networks includes eight electric and natural gas utilities, serving more than 3 million customers in New York and New England. Avangrid Renewables operates 6.3 gigawatts of electricity capacity, primarily through wind power, in states across the United States. AVANGRID employs 7,000 people. The company was formed by a merger between Iberdrola USA and UIL Holdings Corporation in 2015. IBERDROLA S.A. (Madrid: IBE), a worldwide leader in the energy industry, owns 81.5% of AVANGRID. For more information, visit www.avangrid.com.
Michael A. West, Jr.