This week, General Electric (GE) announced a huge renewable energy deal right here in my home state of Oregon. $1.4 billion will go to supply over 300 wind turbines for the largest wind farm in the world – the Shepards Flat Wind Farm – which will be owned and operated by Caithness Energy.
In just a few short years, the turbines at the 845-megawatt (MW) facility will be turning and generating clean power for nearly a quarter of a million households. Perhaps equally exciting is the fact that hundreds of green jobs will be created by the Shepards Flat Wind Farm project.
Specifically, estimates are that the $2 billion project will provide 8 times that amount in economic benefits for Oregon (and possibly Washington State, as well). More than 400 employees will be hired for construction and at least 35 will stay on during operation. Not only will the turbines be erected, but 85 miles of road must be created, along with 90 miles of power connection to the grid.
With the bounty of renewable energy in the Pacific Northwest, California may benefit once again. The new wind farm has entered into a power purchase agreement with Southern California Edison. Astoundingly, the clean energy sold to the utility will represent more than 1/10th of SCE’s renewable energy portfolio. Observed Les Gelber at Caithness Energy:
“This project underscores our commitment to harness the power of wind to meet present and future energy needs while reducing greenhouse emissions. The Shepherds Flat project will add more renewable energy to the west coast’s energy mix and help the region meet its demand for clean energy.”
The new turbines will join the hundreds that already exist near the Columbia River in Oregon’s Gilliam and Morrow Counties:
Several times a year, I drive north through Oregon to Washington State and pass the majestic turbines that already turn in the gusty winds of the Columbia Gorge.
I cannot wait to witness the construction of the largest single global order of GE’s 2.5MW wind turbines – all 338 of them – which will be installed over the next 2 years. They’ll stand sentry over 30 square miles.
Mr. Gelber commented about the choice of GE to supply the turbines for the world’s largest wind farm:
“GE wind turbines have a strong track record of performance that has been proven in nearly every form of climate worldwide. Their ability to continually advance wind turbine technology will help us to provide our customer, Southern California Edison, with the reliability they expect.”
The 2.5 MW GE turbines to be installed for the project is a big first test for the new technology that builds on the company’s 1.5 MW wind turbine. Commentators believe they will increase efficiency and reliability, both of which are vitally important for the success of renewable energy technology.
GE Energy Financial Services is also investing in the Shepards Flat Wind Farm project, and will provide 10 years of maintenance services as part of the deal. The turbines themselves will be assembled here in the U.S.A., at the GE site in Pensacola, Florida.
With the clean energy provided by the wind farm in Oregon, the dirty electricity replaced by the project will help avoid more than 1.5 million tons a year in greenhouse gas emissions.
The State of Oregon is already a leader with respect to solar power. With the world’s largest wind farm as well, the state may soon be the place in the U.S. to invest in and install renewable energy projects!
And I’ll be right here watching and reporting on it!