Construction officially begins Tuesday on the Pantex Renewable Energy Project, which will use the energy stored in Texas Panhandle winds to help power one of the key facilities in the National Nuclear Security Administration’s weapons complex.
The project, known as PREP, will provide more than half of the annual electricity needs for the Pantex Plant when it goes live in approximately one year, and will be the largest federally owned wind farm in the country upon completion.
Officials from NNSA, Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and project contractor Siemens Government Technologies, Inc., will gather at the plant today to break ground on the project.
The wind farm will consist of five 2.3 megawatt turbines located on 1,500 acres of land east of the Pantex Plant. Pantex is the primary site for the assembly, disassembly and maintenance of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile.
PREP will be a one-of-a-kind project that joins the national security mission of the NNSA with DOE’s mission to secure the country’s energy future through use of renewable energy sources. The windfarm will play a key role in helping Pantex achieve President Obama’s directive that the federal government lead the way in clean energy and energy efficiency. The Administration set a goal for the federal government to get 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
PREP will generate approximately 47 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, which is more than 60 percent of the annual electricity need for Pantex, or enough electricity to power nearly 3,500 homes. The project will reduce CO2 emissions by over 35,000 metric tons per year; the equivalent of removing 7,200 cars from the road each year or planting 850,000 trees.
Siemens will construct PREP under an Energy Savings Performance Contract, delivering a turn-key wind farm system with an annual energy production guarantee for 18 years. 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.
The project has been in development for more than five years and relied on partnerships with numerous other entities, including Texas Tech University and the Federal Aviation Administration, which helped secure approval for siting the 400-foot tall wind towers in the controlled airspace near Pantex. The EPA was also a key contributor, partnering with Pantex to help continue a long tradition of environmental stewardship at the Plant.
Construction is expected to last until July 2014, when the blades of the project will start spinning in the strong Panhandle wind, delivering renewable energy to the Pantex Plant.
The PREP groundbreaking will start at 10 a.m. August 13 at the Pantex Plant, located 17 miles northeast of Amarillo, Texas; north of U.S. Highway 60 on Farm-to-Market Road 2373.
Media wishing to cover the event should first contact Brenda Finley at the numbers above. You should plan to arrive by 9:30 a.m. CST at the 16-12 Visitor’s Service Building north of the main gate on FM 2373. Transportation will be provided to the groundbreaking site. A variety of background visuals will be available for photo and video. Interviews with top officials from DOE, NNSA and Siemens will also be available.