Puget Sound Energy starts construction on Lower Snake River Wind Project

Source: Puget Sound Energy

Washington’s renewable-energy industry received a significant boost today when Puget Sound Energy announced the start of construction on Phase I of the Lower Snake River Wind Project in Garfield County. Washington’s oldest energy utility is creating more green energy and more green jobs by pursuing federal stimulus-package funding and state incentives for using apprentice labor during construction, which improve the economics of the project for the utility and its customers. 

The 343-megawatt (MW) Phase I project in Garfield County will significantly increase PSE’s total wind-power generating capacity. The utility has finalized negotiations with Siemens Energy for 149 wind turbines, rated at 2.3 MW each, for Phase I. With a generating capacity of 343 MW, the wind energy facility is expected to provide clean power for more than 100,000 homes. 

Construction of Phase I will create up to 150 temporary jobs, with the eventual commercial operations creating as many as 25 permanent jobs. 

“Puget Sound Energy’s Lower Snake River Wind Project will bring more jobs and more renewable energy to Washington,” said Gov. Christine Gregoire. “Projects like this support our state agenda for a greener future with more green jobs.” 

PSE is building Phase I of the Lower Snake River Wind Project now, in part, to meet the utility’s longer-term state renewable energy requirements under Initiative 937, but also to protect against energy-market price volatility and the “carbon costs” government is likely to impose on utilities to address climate change. 

“We’re excited about constructing Phase I of the Lower Snake River Wind Project, our third major wind facility,” said Kimberly Harris, executive vice president and chief resource officer for PSE. “This project builds on our success with Hopkins Ridge and Wild Horse, which are already generating 430 MW of clean, renewable power.” 

Phase I will be built near Pomeroy, Wash., on nearly 40,000 acres of leased farmland. More than 98 percent of the land will remain available for crops once the wind facility enters operation, with farmers receiving lease and royalty payments for participating in the project. 

“The jobs, landowner lease incomes and property taxes this project brings to Garfield County will be great for the community,” said Dean Burton, chair of the Garfield County Board of Commissioners. 

“Wind power and wheat farming are great partners, and we look forward to this new opportunity for families in our area,” said Alesia Ruchert, managing director for Garfield County of the SouthEast Washington Economic Development Association, based in Pomeroy. “Harvesting the wind is the next logical step in agriculture for Garfield County and will provide significant tax benefits to county operations such as the fire and school districts.” 

PSE has also tapped Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. (RES Americas) for the construction of the project infrastructure. RES Americas has either developed or constructed more than 10 percent of the installed wind capacity in the U.S. including existing facilities in southeast Washington. 

PSE is finalizing development of additional phases of the Lower Snake River Wind Project, including neighboring Columbia County, where the utility currently owns and operates the 87-turbine, 157-MW Hopkins Ridge Wind Facility near the city of Dayton. PSE also operates business offices in both Dayton and Pomeroy. In addition, PSE owns and operates the 149-turbine, 273-MW Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility near Ellensburg, Kittitas County. PSE is recognized by the American Wind Energy Association as the nation’s second-largest utility owner and operator of wind power. 

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