The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has dedicated the U.S.' largest federally owned wind farm at the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas.
Pantex, the nation's primary facility for the assembly, disassembly and maintenance of nuclear weapons, will now be powered largely by the Pantex Renewable Energy Project (PREP). The 11.5 MW, five-turbine PREP wind farm has been under construction since August on 1,500 acres of Department of Energy-owned land adjacent to the plant.
The NNSA says construction of the wind farm was recently completed under a unique finance model, known as an "energy savings performance contract," which allowed Siemens to build PREP with no up-front cost to the taxpayers. Siemens will be paid directly from the value of guaranteed energy savings generated by the turbines, an amount expected to average $2.8 million annually.
In addition to providing 60% of the electricity for Pantex operations, PREP will serve as the keystone for an ongoing collaboration with Texas Tech University (TTU) to make Pantex a leader in innovation within the wind energy sector, according to the NNSA. TTU and the NNSA Production Office recently signed a memorandum of understanding that would combine the resources of the DOE/NNSA, Pantex and TTU's National Wind Institute to study ways to create a world-class energy research center at Pantex.
"Pantex has an important and enduring mission, ensuring the safety and effectiveness of U.S. nuclear weapons," says Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Frank G. Klotz, administrator of the NNSA. "In carrying out this mission, here at Pantex and elsewhere in the nuclear security enterprise, we are committed to managing costs and to delivering projects on time and under budget. The Pantex Renewable Energy Project is a major milestone toward keeping that promise to the U.S. taxpayer."
The Environmental Protection Agency has also presented Pantex with a "Greenovation" award recognizing the plant's innovative reuse of the PREP site.