Cummins honored by governor of Indiana for wind farm project
Cummins received a Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence this week for the company’s work helping the Meadow Lake Wind Farm expand so it can generate more renewable power.
The award was presented Wednesday (Sept. 18) by Indiana Department of Environmental Management Commissioner Bruno Pigott on behalf of Gov. Eric Holcomb. Brian Mormino, Executive Director – World Wide Environmental Strategy & Compliance at Cummins, accepted the award on behalf of the company and its partners at Meadow Lake VI in northwest Indiana.
“The expansion of the wind farm produces the equivalent amount of energy that Cummins uses at its Indiana facilities and reduces air emissions and water consumption at the local power plant,” Pigott said in announcing the award at the 22nd annual Indiana Pollution Prevention Conference and Trade Show in Indianapolis, Indiana (U.S.).
The project was the winner in the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Resources category. Five other initiatives also won excellence awards, which recognize organizations that “voluntarily went above and beyond their regulatory requirements.”
Pigott called the winners Indiana’s leaders in implementing the most “innovative, sustainable and exemplary” environmental projects in 2018-2019.
In a brief presentation on the project, Karen Cecil, Director of Environmental Sustainability at Cummins, called the wind farm expansion “probably one of the projects I’m most proud to be a part of.”
ABOUT THE PROJECT
Cummins has entered into a 15-year Virtual Power Purchase Agreement, more commonly known in the industry as a VPPA. It guarantees the wind farm a fixed price for the power Meadow Lake VI generates, providing some certainty for the expansion, which helped it move forward. The VPPA provides Cummins with a hedge against rising energy prices.
Meadow Lake VI has a capacity of about 200 megawatts annually, which is generated from 61 wind turbines. All six phases of the wind farm collectively have an installed capacity of 801.25 megawatts, enough to power approximately 220,000 average Indiana homes with clean energy each year.
The share of the expansion Cummins is supporting is 75 megawatts of capacity. While none of the power will go directly to a Cummins’ facility, its share of the expansion is projected to generate slightly more electricity annually than the company uses at its Indiana facilities.
Essentially the greenhouse gases from the electricity consumption at Cummins' facilities in Indiana are offset by the renewable power sent to the grid. About a quarter of the company’s total energy use is in Indiana.
Cummins partnered with the Environmental Defense Fund and The Nature Conservancy, which reviewed the expansion plans. While no energy technology has zero impact, the expansion site was nearly ideal for wind energy, with a flat topography. Almost all of the site is fully developed agricultural land, with minimal sensitive habitats.
The Meadow Lake Wind Farm is owned by EDP Renewables, which values environmental stewardship, an important factor for Cummins. The company was represented at the awards ceremony by Kelly Snyder, Senior Origination Manager – East Region. Paul Jackson, Director of Benton County Economic Development also attended, along with Steven Cox, Benton County Commissioner President. The county is home to the wind farm expansion and many of its farmers have benefited financially from having wind turbines on their property.
Expanding renewable forms of energy is included in Cummins’ 2020 environmental goals. The company wants to do its part to address climate change.
Other winners of environmental excellence awards included: Grace College for its work with the Lilly Center for Lakes and Streams in northeast Indiana, the city of Bloomington for its work on energy conservation, Jennings County for its work to promote and improve pollinator habitats, Helmer Scientific for its work to phase out hydrocarbons and the city of Greendale for its work to implement curbside recycling.