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OKIsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 05:47 PM
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Putting the wind in Windy City

Putting the wind in Windy City

By Christina Le Beau
Nov. 19, 2007
In 2001, the energy industry was a mess. Blackouts, price gouging and the Enron scandal prompted lawmakers to pledge to boost capacity and reform the system. Power companies stepped up, ready to build more plants.

But as price caps threatened profits, it became clear that existing infrastructure couldn't support a big expansion. Utilities abandoned new projects and looked hard at the profitability of existing facilities, opening the door to sell-offs.

That's when Michael Polsky moved in.

"It was an overbuilt situation," says the veteran energy entrepreneur, who'd started his latest venture, Invenergy LLC, in Chicago that year with the purchase of one gas-fired plant. "I thought it would be a good idea to capitalize on market pullback and buy some power plants at reduced prices."

Soon, though, Mr. Polsky's attention turned to alternative energy. All that stress over rising fuel prices, plus growing concern about the environment and the security of the nation's energy supply, made renewables appealing. So, in 2003, Invenergy began building wind farms primarily in the South and West and selling the resulting electricity to local utilities.

Although it continues to develop natural gas-fired projects, renewable energy is its primary business. The company is the fourth-largest developer of wind power in the country, part of an industry that generated 31 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity this year, enough to power 3 million homes.

Invenergy's current wind operations six farms in the United States and one in northeast Poland generate about 2 billion kilowatt-hours, enough to power 200,000 homes. Four other U.S. farms now under construction will nearly double that.

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