Oregon-Wash. Border Gets Wind Farm
January 10, 2001 - GILLIAN FLACCUS
- The Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) The world's largest wind
farm is about to be built on the Oregon-Washington
border 450 wind turbines that will generate
enough power for 70,000 homes in 13 Western states.
PacifiCorp, an Oregon utility serving six states,
joined wind power developer FPL Energy of Florida
on Wednesday to announce construction will begin next
month. The wind farm could be churning out power before
the end of the year.
Conservationists praised the plan as a breakthrough
in renewable energy and a coup for the environment.
PacifiCorp, Portland, Ore., has committed to buy raw
wind power from the farm for 25 years.
"What you're getting here is a signal from one
of the most significant participants in the commercial
market that wind power is ready for prime time, that
it's marketable and profitable," said Ralph Cavanagh,
energy resources director for the Natural Resources
FPL Energy will build, own and operate the wind farm.
PacificCorp Power Marketing, a nonregulated subsidiary,
will purchase and market the entire output of the
project over a 25-year period.
The new plant called the Stateline Wind Generating
Project will straddle the Oregon-Washington
border, with 200 megawatts provided by turbines in
Walla Walla County, Wash., and 100 megawatts generated
by turbines in Umatilla County, Ore.
The combined 300 megawatts will make the complex
the world's largest single wind energy development,
Officials say the extra energy could help ease fears
of rolling power blackouts in the Pacific Northwest,
which typically has a summer power surplus but needs
to draw electricity from California in winter.
The energy crisis in California prompted Oregon Gov.
John Kitzhaber and Washington Gov. Gary Locke last
week to urge Northwest residents and businesses to
cut power consumption by 10 percent until spring.
"You recognize that every little bit is going
to help. This farm, in and of itself, is not going
to completely relieve the energy challenge in the
Northwest but it will contribute to solving it,"
said Carol Clawson, spokeswoman for FPL Energy.
Improvements in turbine technology have made wind
power more reliable, profitable and environmentally
Modern wind turbines have self-monitoring systems
and adjust their direction and blade angle to maximize
on the wind's natural power. The modern rotors, which
are bigger and slower-moving, solve another problem
that had plagued wind farms for years -- the death
of thousands of birds caught in the spinning blades.
The project will generate 200 construction jobs and
25 permanent jobs and provide local farmers with rent
money from the lease of their land.
"Everybody's lights will burn a little brighter
because of this project," Cavanagh said.
PacifiCorp was the first U.S. electric utility to
be purchased by a foreign corporation when ScottishPower
completed its takeover in December 1999.
FPL Energy is the largest developer and operator
of wind energy facilities in the nation. It is a branch
of the Juno Beach, Fla.-based FPL Group, whose largest
subsidiary is Florida Electric & Light.