STUDENTS, ENERGY LEADERS, COMMUNITY, RAPTORS GATHER TO DEDICATE BIG HORN WIND POWER PROJECT
Wind Farm Generates Enough Power for 60,000 Homes, Conservation Efforts Protect Wildlife Habitat
Click Here for a PDF version of this press release.
May 21, 2007
BICKLETON, Wash. - Energy industry leaders, community members, hundreds of students from two states and several large raptors who help with wind technician training celebrated the opening of one of Washington's largest wind farms in the rolling wheat fields and grasslands of the Columbia River Gorge on May 21, 2007.
Located in Klickitat County, approximately 25 miles from PPM Energy's existing Klondike Wind Power Projects, Big Horn generates 200 megawatts (MW) of electricity. Typically, a wind farm of this size can provide clean, renewable electricity to more than 60,000 homes, according to the American Wind Energy Association's calculation. Big Horn uses 133 GE Energy 1.5 MW wind turbines.
"Big Horn and our other successful wind projects in the Northwest prove PPM Energy's commitment to developing renewable energy sources in ways that benefit our customers, local communities and the environment," said Ty Daul, PPM Energy's vice president for renewable business development. "This project is a model for responsible development, working closely with the community and on conservation of wildlife habitat."
Big Horn has drawn praise from elected officials from the local to national level. Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire declared Wind Energy Week to commemorate the Big Horn dedication, and U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell voiced her support for alternative energy development.
"The Big Horn Wind Power Project is another clean energy milestone," Cantwell said. "It is a landmark contribution to Washington state's efforts to break our nation's addiction to fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Projects such Big Horn also provide a boost to our rural communities in the form of jobs and new revenue sources. This is a step in the right direction for our state and our country."
"I am excited that the Big Horn Wind Power Project has begun operations in Bickleton," said U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings. "In addition to providing emissions-free energy, the Big Horn project will make a significant contribution to the economy of Klickitat County."
The electricity from Big Horn is sold to M-S-R Public Power Agency. M-S-R is a California joint powers authority organized in 1980 by the Modesto Irrigation District, Silicon Valley Power (Santa Clara) and the City of Redding. Its mission is to acquire electric generation and transmission resources for the electric systems of its members.
"The Big Horn agreement means that 35 percent of our energy portfolio is now from renewable sources," said Allen Short, president of M-S-R. "This is an important goal for us to reach, and we're leading the charge for other public power agencies to incorporate more renewable power."
Big Horn also marks a major investment by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) in integrating wind power into the regional transmission grid.
"Strong partnerships create opportunities to integrate wind and other resources. BPA is proud to have a role in the development of Pacific Northwest wind resources," said Brian Silverstein, transmission vice president for planning and asset management, "BPA plans to integrate generation from five more wind projects before the end of 2007. We're working hand-in-hand with wind energy developers to make this happen."
Positive Economic and Environmental Impact
Big Horn employed up to 200 people during the construction phase of the project - a big economic impact on a town with a population that hovers around 90. There are 11 operations and maintenance employees, three-quarters of them from surrounding towns, currently working for the wind farm. Millions of dollars in property tax revenue is expected for Klickitat County over the life of the project.
"Due to its many benefits, we're actively seeking wind power development in our region," said Ray Thayer, Klickitat County Commissioner. "Wind power projects provide a tremendous infusion of new revenues for individual landowners and for the county, while remaining respectful to the traditional uses of land for hunting, ranching and farming."
Big Horn is a model for sensitive land use. While the entire project spans approximately 15,000 acres, the actual footprint of the turbines and associated facilities uses approximately two percent of the total area within leased land. Landowners will continue using the remainder of the land. In addition, PPM Energy invested in conserving 455 acres of habitat on the south side of the site.
Beautifying the "Bluebird Capital of the World"
Bickleton is also known as the "bluebird capital of the world" because thousands of birds spend most of the year in the area. As part of PPM's community outreach efforts, the company sponsored an education program in the local school system that included the construction and placement of more than 250 bluebird boxes.
"Although bluebirds are common at wind projects, they are not at high risk - probably because their flight path is low to the ground," said Sara McMahon, PPM biologist. "We wanted to partner with local residents to foster the bluebird, the symbol of their community, and encourage ongoing education about protecting native bird populations."
About PPM Energy
PPM Energy now has more than 2,000 megawatts of wind energy in operation or under construction. The strength of its renewable project pipeline has allowed the company to increase its 2010 target by more than 50 percent to at least 3,500 megawatts developed or controlled by PPM Energy. PPM Energy balances its supply portfolio with sales to wholesale customers, placing almost all of its output in long-term contracts. Major customers include the cities of Seattle, Sacramento, Eugene, Pasadena and Anaheim as well as investor-owned utilities such as Xcel Energy and Pacific Gas & Electric Company and the federal Bonneville Power Administration. PPM Energy also creates innovative new products to meet customer needs, such as operations and maintenance services and build-to-sell products. PPM Energy is a part of the IBERDROLA group of companies, the world's leading provider of wind power.