Planned Texas wind farm to power Owens Corning, Equinix

Chicago-based Invenergy will build a new 300-megawatt Texas wind farm near Lubbock to power Owens Corning insulation and fiberglass giant and Equinix Inc. data center company.

Invenergy inked multi-year power purchase agreements with both companies to help finance the construction of the planned Wake Wind Energy Facility to be completed by the end of 2016.

Ohio-based Owens Corning contracted for 125 megawatts of the wind farm, while California-based Equinix committed to buy 100 megawatts of electricity generated as both companies move toward their commitments to go green.

Invenergy is easily one of the most active companies building new power generation in Texas. Invenergy finished its Miami Wind farm north of Amarillo and its Goldthwaite Wind Energy project north of Austin last year. In September, the company completed its 207-megawatt Rattlesnake wind project southeast of Midland and the new 330-megawatt Ector County Energy Center natural gas-fired power plant near Odessa.

Invenergy President and CEO Michael Polsky said in a recent interview that construction will start soon on the 120-megawatt Gunsight Mountain wind project east of Midland. Apart from Wake Wind, the plan is to build another unnamed Texas wind farm next year as well, Polsky said.

“Gas, solar and wind are almost 100 percent of new construction,” Polsky said of Invenergy’s wind and gas growth. “With as much wind as Texas has, you need to provide some resources for when the wind is not there, and peaking plants are the best way for now.”

There’s a push to complete wind farms by the end of 2016 in order to qualify for the federal production tax credit that expired and debates are ongoing whether Congress will extend it.

“I think obviously there’s a rush because nobody knows if the PTC will get extended or not,” Polsky said.

But Invenergy also doesn’t want to rush to build projects without some purchase agreements, so the Owens Corning and Equinix deals allow Wake Wind to move forward.

“By acting now, these customers are taking advantage of extremely competitive long-term wind energy pricing, as well as facilitating the transition to a sustainable and clean energy economy,” Invenergy’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing Craig Gordon said in a prepared statement.

Last month, Owens Corning announced more ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas and toxic air emissions as well as new renewable energy initiatives.

Equinix plans to be 100 percent by renewable energy in North America by the end of 2016. The company also signed a new deal with an Oklahoma wind farm owned by NextEra Energy and with a SunEdison solar panel facility in California.

“We’re very pleased to help Equinix meet its long-term renewable energy and sustainability goals,” Gordon added. “The growing demand for new data storage facilities to support the explosive growth of cloud computing is equally matched with the demand to power-up those facilities in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way.”

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