The 302.4-megawatt Santa Rita East Wind Farm in Texas began commercial operations this week. Novartis, Merck, and Grupo Bimbo previously signed long-term virtual power purchase agreements with AEP Renewables’ share of the wind farm’s generation.
Last year North American renewable energy company Invenergy announced the three VPPAs for Santa Rita East for a total of 260 MW. Mexican multinational Grupo Bimbo signed for 100 MW, pharmaceutical company Novartis signed for 100 MW, and pharmaceutical company Merck signed for 60 MW.
“Our sustainability goals address the rising expectations of our stakeholders about the environmental impacts of our operations, energy use, supply chain and packaging,” Danielle Menture, vice president of global safety and environment at Merck, said when the company signed the VPPA last year. The pharma giant aims to have more than 50% of their purchased electricity come from renewable sources by 2025 and 100% by 2040.
Invenergy developed and constructed the wind farm, which is located approximately 70 miles west of San Angelo, Texas. When the project was completed, Invenergy says it closed a purchase and sale agreement with AEP Renewables for acquisition of a 75% interest in the project. Invenergy retains a 25% stake and agreed to provide operations, asset management, and energy management services under the 20-year agreement.
With the completion of the wind farm, Invenergy indicated that the company has surpassed $5 billion in capital investment in Texas.
AEP Renewables said that, in addition to Santa Rita East, the wholly owned subsidiary of AEP added 724 MW of wind and battery generation to its contracted renewable generation portfolio in April.