U.S. Army picks firms for up to $7 billion in wind energy orders

The U.S. Army has picked 17 companies that will be eligible to receive orders for wind energy under an umbrella contract valued at up to $7 billion, the Pentagon said on Monday.


Chicago-based Acciona Energy North America Corp. made the Army’s short list of 17 wind power companies eligible to bid for up to $7 billion in clean energy contracts.


Chicago is the U.S. headquarters of Acciona SA, a global wind, solar and infrastructure firm based in Spain, with revenue last year of more than 7 billion euros, equivalent to nearly $9.4 billion at current exchange rates.


Although only one Chicago-based wind energy company made the cut, one expert said the Defense Department’s initiative could boost Chicago-area makers of turbines and other wind-energy components.


“Chicago’s importance to the wind industry could mean new business for firms in the area,” said Kevin Borgia, Chicago-based public policy manager at Wind on the Wires, a Midwest-focused wind energy advocacy group in Minneapolis.


Some of the world’s biggest turbine makers have their U.S. operations based in Chicago, he noted, such as Goldwind USA Inc., Suzlon Wind Energy Corp. and Nordex USA Inc. In addition, Cicero’s Broadwind Energy Inc. makes towers and gears, Winergy Drive Systems Corp. in Elgin makes gearboxes and Chicago-based S&C Electric Corp. provides switches and other electronics.


The Department of Defense has opened “a significant new opportunity in the U.S. renewable energy market,” an Acciona spokesman said via email. “The DoD is the world’s largest energy consumer, so we’re very interested in them as a customer. Acciona identified DoD opportunities as a priority early on, and we’re seeing the results of that work now.”


The power is expected to come from new wind farms, which winning firms will develop, finance, design, build, operate, own and maintain, he added.


Acciona also qualified last month to supply solar power to military bases, along with Chicago-based New Generation Power Inc.


With a goal of obtaining 25 percent of its power from renewable energy sources by 2025, the Pentagon announced plans a year ago to seek up to $7 billion in clean power purchase agreements.


The first round went to four geothermal power providers, including Baltimore-based Constellation New Energy, a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corp. In addition, New Generation Power still hopes to qualify as a geothermal power provider after responding to a Pentagon request for a determination that it is a responsible small business contractor, said Chirinjeev Kathuria, the firm’s chairman and CEO.

The companies include many large energy producers including Dominion Energy, a unit of Dominion Resources; the U.S. unit of Spain’s Acciona; Duke Energy, the U.S. unit of France’s EDF Energies Nouvelles; and the U.S. unit of Spain’s Iberdrola.

All the companies were awarded potential “indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity” contracts that have a cumulative value of up to $7 billion, the Pentagon said in its daily digest of major contracts.

It said the 17 companies were among 45 that competed for the right to bid for specific task orders for procurement of wind energy from private renewable and alternative energy production facilities, located on private land or military sites.