The Tennessee Valley Authority, created 76 years ago to harness the power of the Tennessee River, announced Thursday that it will use the wind to generate more of its power by 2012.
TVA officials said they will use independent power producers nearly 1,000 miles outside of the Tennessee Valley to generate the newest source of renewable energy.
America's biggest government utility said it has signed 20-year agreements with wind farms in North and South Dakota for 450 megawatts of wind-generated electricity -- enough to power 140,000 houses.
"This is an exciting day for TVA," TVA Vice President Belinda Thornton said. "We entered into this purchasing process last year with high hopes and we are very happy with the results."
TVA said the price of the purchased power will be competitive with what TVA pays for other purchased power to supply its 8 million customers across its seven-state region.
Under the new contracts, CPV Renewable Energy Co., will supply up to 200 megawatts of electricity from 87 turbines at its Ashley wind farm in McIntosh County, N.D.
Invenergy Wind LLC will supply up to 250 megawatts of power from 167 wind turbines at its Hurricane Lake Energy Center in Roberts County, S.D.
TVA is eager to soon sign more contracts for renewable energy -- possibly including some from biofuels -- close to home, Ms. Thornton said.
"If everything goes as planned, we expect to enter into three or four additional contracts by the end of this year," she said.
TVA requested proposals last December for up to 2,000 megawatts of renewable energy and got 60 offers. Van Wardlaw, executive vice president of power supply and fuels, said solar energy was priced higher than wind or biofuel proposals. TVA is still negotiating with the state of Tennessee to buy power generated by a $62 million solar farm the state plans to build in Haywood County in West Tennessee.
"TVA is committed to increasing our generation from non-carbon emitting sources by adding competitively priced wind, solar and biomass to our portfolio," Mr. Wardlaw said.
Donnie Safer, chairman of the Tennessee Environmental Council, applauded TVA for trying to use more renewable power to replace coal and nuclear generated electricity.
"It's moving in the right direction and I hope as the technologies for wind and solar evolve that TVA will move close with its generation sources," he said.