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Southern Power to develop 3,000 MW of wind projects with RES

Southern Co. announced Dec. 30 a joint development agreement between its generation subsidiary, Southern Power Co., and Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. to develop approximately 3,000 MW of wind projects by 2020.

The 10 projects have commercial operation dates between 2018 and 2020, according to a news release, and Southern Power has signed agreements to purchase wind turbine equipment for the facilities with Siemens AG and Vestas Wind Systems A/S.

"We now have priority access to a robust, visible development pipeline and a supply chain for turbines from two premier technology providers, reinforcing our focus on wind energy investments over the next several years," Southern Power President and CEO Buzz Miller said in a statement.

The wind turbine equipment from Siemens and Vestas will help secure tax benefits for the projects, Southern said, with Renewable Energy Systems planned to serve as lead developer and "balance-of-plant" provider for those projects that will use the equipment. This arrangement will allow Southern Power to be co-developer for future projects, according to the company.

Southern Power owns more than 3,000 MW of renewable generation at facilities it has announced, has acquired or is building, in technologies including wind, solar and biomass, according to the news release. The Southern corporate family has announced or added more than 4,000 MW of renewable generation since 2012.

The latest announcement is in line with Southern's strategy to focus more on wind development opportunities at its generation business. At Southern's Oct. 31 analyst day presentation, executives forecast Southern Power's capital investment peaking in 2016 at $4.4 billion, then stabilizing at roughly $1.5 billion annually for the next five years, with roughly $1 billion of that annual outlay dedicated to wind generation. Southern Chairman, President and CEO Thomas Fanning noted during that event that the company's utilities all purchase wind generation. "And so we've gotten in that business, and we're making a pivot now away from solar — we'll still do some solar — but away from solar into wind," he said.