Pantex wind farm complete
Retired Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz, the new administrator for the National Nuclear Security Administration, dedicated the nation’s largest federally owned wind farm Tuesday at the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas.
Klotz, who is also the U.S. Department of Energy’s under secretary for nuclear security, was joined at the ceremony by Kevin Knobloch, DOE’s chief of staff; NNSA Production Office (NPO) Manager Steven Erhart; Siemens Government Technologies President and Chief Executive Officer Judy Marksl and Texas Tech University Associate Vice Chancellor Russell Thomasson.
The mission of the NPO is to ensure the safe, secure, and cost-effective operation of the Pantex Plant and the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge.
The NNSA said Pantex will now be powered largely by the Pantex Renewable Energy Project, or PREP, an 11.5-megawatt, five-turbine wind farm that has been under construction since August on 1,500 acres of DOE-owned land adjacent to the Pantex Plant.
Construction of the wind farm was completed this week under a unique finance model, known as an Energy Savings Performance Contract, which allowed Siemens to build PREP with no upfront cost to the taxpayers, a press release said. 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.
PREP will generate approximately 47 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, which is enough to power nearly 3,500 homes. The project will reduce CO2 emissions by more than 35,000 metric tons per year, the equivalent of removing 7,200 cars from the road each year or planting 850,000 trees, the release said.
In addition to providing 60 percent of the electricity for Pantex operations, PREP will serve as the keystone for an ongoing collaboration with TTU to make Pantex a leader in innovation within the wind energy sector. TTU and the NPO recently signed a memorandum of understanding that would combine the resources of DOE/NNSA, Pantex, and TTU’s National Wind Institute to study ways to create a world-class energy research center at Pantex.
Klotz was at Pantex to help “throw the switch” on the PREP, conduct an extensive tour of the plant, and hold an All Hands meeting with Pantex employees.
“Pantex has an important and enduring mission, ensuring the safety and effectiveness of U.S. nuclear weapons,” Klotz said. “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.”
Tuesday marked the first Pantex visit for Klotz since he was confirmed by the Senate in April as the Administrator of the NNSA. The Pantex Plant is the nation’s primary facility for the assembly, disassembly, and maintenance of nuclear weapons.
Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were also on hand Tuesday to present Pantex with a “Greenovation” award recognizing the Plant’s innovative reuse of the PREP site.
“In our visit to Pantex today, I am deeply impressed with the energy, talent and commitment to excellence represented by all Pantexans,” Klotz said. “The U.S. Department of Energy—and indeed the entire nation—are so very proud of the Pantex workforce for their service on behalf of our nation’s security.”
Photos from the event are available here.