Developing a wind energy project is complex. There are numerous elements to the development process, all of which must come together in order for the development to proceed to construction and then to operations.

Site Selection: Is this the right location?
An ideal site is obviously one with evidence of a significant wind resource. But, beyond that, the following considerations also need to be taken into account to determine if a site is suitable for development:

  • specific terrain of the property
  • proximity to transmission lines
  • access to roads
  • state, local, and federal permitting requirements
  • environmental aspects of the site
  • support of the local community

Flexible Landowner Agreements: How will land use agreements be arranged with the landowner?
Orion Energy Group LLC (Orion) works closely with landowners to understand each landowner’s unique circumstances and needs. Our wind energy projects provide an additional source of landowner revenue while preserving existing land use. We take pride in working closely with the landowner throughout all phases of a wind project. Typical easement or lease agreements have a pre-construction period during which Orion will pursue permitting, grid connection, power sales, renewable resource assessment, site design and other activities. The pre-construction period is followed by the construction period and then the operation period, which typically lasts for thirty years, with options to extend 50 years at the end of the initial term.

Wind Resource Assessment:  Is there enough wind?
Wind maps, available from the U.S. Department of Energy, are often used to provide an initial estimate of the wind speed at the proposed site. Meteorologists will also visit a site to analyze the site’s characteristics. Sophisticated terrain and meteorological models are used to estimate wind speeds.  Site-specific meteorological studies are performed by installing one or more meteorological towers on the site to collect hourly wind speed and direction data. A minimum of one year of wind data is typically analyzed to determine the economic feasibility of the project.

Environmental Review: What are the potential environmental impacts of the project?
Orion conducts environmental reviews at potential sites in order to ensure that a potential project is compatible with the existing local environment. Such reviews help identify any threatened or endangered species on the site, any historical or archaeological aspects of the site, and any types of bird and bat species likely to be found on the site. The results of environmental assessments are used to design sites that minimize potential environmental impacts.

Economic Modeling: Do the economics of the project support continued development?
Once key project characteristics are developed, Orion estimates project electrical output, revenues, capital costs, construction costs, operating costs, and financing costs. These revenues and costs are then input into a sophisticated financial model to determine whether a project is economically feasible for the market in which it exports electricity.

Interconnection Studies & Transmission Agreements: Can the electricity generated by this project be transmitted to the utility grid?
Orion conducts electrical engineering studies to confirm that the transmission grid can accept additional electricity.  We then initiate a formal study process with the utility owner that ultimately results in an agreement to allow the project to connect and transmit electricity to the grid.

Permitting: Can the necessary permits be obtained for the project?
Orion determines what permits are necessary, given its environmental review and studies, and what is necessary to satisfy permit requirements. Permits can be required from local, state, and federal authorities and can include land use, environmental, and building permits.

Power Sales Agreements: Is there a customer for the electricity generated on the project site?
A reliable power purchaser or “liquid” energy market must be identified. Power purchase agreements are entered into with utility companies or power marketers who purchase the electricity, typically over long term contracts. Orion’s principals have originated and negotiated power purchase agreements for numerous projects across the U.S.

Project Financing: How will construction financing be arranged?
Access to capital is critical for renewable energy projects and an important aspect of Orion’s access to capital is our successful track record. Orion’s experience encompasses development and construction finance, term loans, and highly structured equity investment.  Orion’s principals have been involved in the purchase, sale, development and financing of thousands of megawatts of wind energy projects in the U.S. and overseas, and have developed strong relationships with a select group of financial institutions and energy companies in the financing of renewable power projects.

Turbine Procurement: What is the best kind of wind turbine for the site?
Orion is not affiliated with any wind turbine manufacturer. This independence, combined with our experience working with all of the major wind turbine manufacturers, allows us to procure the most competitive, reliable, and technically suitable equipment for each project.

Site Design: How are the locations of the wind turbines chosen?
Wind resource data, extensive field experience, and sophisticated terrain modeling software are used in conjunction with any environmental sensitivities and/or permitting constraints to determine the optimal location for each turbine.