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Wind Farms on Tap in Basin

by Associated Press
Capital Press, June 2, 2006

PORTLAND -- PPM Energy, one of the largest developers of wind farms in the country, announced the construction of a 100-megawatt project near the Columbia River in Eastern Oregon.

The Leaning Jupiter wind farm near Arlington will consist of 67 1.5- megawatt turbines. When completed by the end of the year, it is expected to generate enough electricity to power about 25,000 homes for a year.

PPM Energy is the Portland-based subsidiary of ScottishPower. This year, it will complete wind farms capable of serving more than 90,000 homes for a year, company officials said. It already owns and operates the 100-megawatt Klondike wind farm in Sherman County and has begun the permitting process for a 200-megawatt expansion.

Across the Columbia River, it is building the 200-megawatt Big Horn wind farm in Klickitat County.

Despite the rapid development, wind power accounts for only about 1.5 percent of electricity consumed in the Pacific Northwest.

As a variable resource, it doesn't produce the nonstop electricity flow of coal-or gas-fired power plants. One megawatt of wind energy capacity generates enough electricity to power 250 homes for a year, compared with 750 for natural gas.

But rising natural gas prices have made wind more attractive. Wind developers also benefit from federal subsidies such as a production tax credit.

The credit, however, will expire at the end of 2007 unless Congress agrees to an extension. The approaching deadline has led to a construction boom.

One hitch has been securing the large turbines used to catch the wind and generate electricity. Portland General Electric last month announced it had acquired the rights for a wind farm in Sherman County, but it has yet to find enough affordable turbines to start the project.

PPM Energy said it already has the turbines needed for its 2006 and 2007 projects.

Associated Press
Wind Farms on Tap in Basin
Capital Press, June 2, 2006

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