GE Lands $1.4B Contract for Turbines to Create 845MW Wind Farm in Oregon

GE Lands $1.4B Contract for Turbines to Create 845MW Wind Farm in Oregon

Image courtesy of GE

Independent power producer Caithness Energy has awarded GE a $1.4 billion contract for 338 of the company's most advanced wind turbines to build a 845-megawatt wind farm in Oregon -- a size that outstrips all others currently operating worldwide.

The Shepherds Flat wind farm, scheduled for completion in 2012, is expected to provide enough power for 230,000 households. Compared to equivalent fossil fuel generation, operation of the wind farm will avoid more than 1.5 million tons a year in greenhouse gas emissions, say the project partners, who announced their plans yesterday.

The $2-billion project also is expected to boost the Oregon economy by $16 million annually and provide hundreds of jobs: 400 during the course of construction and 35 for operation of the completed site, according to Caithness Energy.

The energy company has struck three 20-year power purchase agreements with Southern California Edison, which will be the recipient of the wind farm's output.

The site will have the capacity to generate 2 billion kilowatt hours of renewable energy a year and will account for more than a tenth of Southern California Edison's renewable energy portfolio. The California's Renewables Portfolio Standard, one of the more ambitious in the country, calls for electric companies to get 20 percent of their power from renewable energy resources by 2010.

For GE, the project represents the largest single global order of the firm's 2.5xl wind turbines, which have been used in Europe (the picture above shows the turbine in action in Germany) and Asia. The installation will also be the first in North America to deploy GE 2.5xl wind turbines, which will be assembled at the company's facilities in Pensacola, Florida.

When complete, the Shepherds Flat wind farm will occupy 30 square miles of Gilliam and Morrow Counties in north-central Oregon, near the town of Arlington. The vast project includes the construction of 85 miles of road and 90 miles of power connection to the electricity grid.

GE Energy Financial Services, whose portfolio includes more than 40 wind farms with a total capacity to produce more than 6 gigawatts of electricity, is investing in the project.

The wind farm is the second recent major development of renewable energy resources to affect California.

Last week, Pacific Gas and Electric Company announced that it has contracted with Iberdrola Renewables Inc. to purchase and operate a wind generating plant with a power capacity of up to 246 megawatts.

The proposed Manzana wind plant would be built on 7,000 acres in the Tehachapi region of Kern County and would be the first wind project owned by PG&E. If approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, the plant could begin producing power by December 2011.

The Manzana wind farm has a projected output of 670 million kilowatt-hours per year and an estimated capital cost of about $900 million.

Iberdrola Renewables is the U.S. arm of the world's largest provider of wind power.

Image of courtesy of GE.