PGE Proposes Acquisition of One of Largest Wind Power Sites in The Nation
Portland General Electric today announced it has executed an agreement with Orion Energy, LLC to acquire the development rights for the 25,000-acre Biglow Canyon Wind Farm in Sherman County, Oregon. The Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) is currently reviewing the agreement and is expected to announce its recommendation in the next several weeks. If the agreement is approved by the OPUC, Portland General Electric (PGE) could develop between 350 and 450 megawatts (MW) of wind energy capacity at the site, which could produce enough electricity to power 100,000 homes. It would be one of the largest wind power projects in the nation.
"Oregon must lead by example in its production of energy, and I applaud PGE for taking steps in helping get more wind power in our state's energy mix," said Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski. "This is the kind of project that will help achieve my goals of meeting 25 percent of the state's electricity through renewable energy sources by 2025 and 100 percent renewable energy in state government by 2010."
PGE officials said the agreement fits well with what customers want and with the company's goal to minimize energy price volatility by reducing exposure to fuel costs.
"If we get approval to acquire these development rights, we will be taking a significant step toward positioning ourselves to further shift our supply portfolio away from more volatile fuel sources," said Jim Lobdell, PGE vice president of power operations and resource strategy. "This site holds a lot of promise, but it is important to note that the construction planning is at an early stage. If the economics of developing the project continue to pencil out, our plan is to develop the site in phases over time, not all at once."
The proposed acquisition of the development rights would enable PGE to hold wind easements from more than 23 private landowners in Sherman County for a term of 30 years or more. Orion Energy worked with local representatives of these landowners, collectively known as Praise the Wind, Inc., to develop and execute the wind easements. The land is currently used as farm and pasture land and will largely stay that way given the small footprint of modern wind projects.
Orion Energy is the developer of Biglow Canyon and is working with the Oregon Department of Energy's Energy Facility Siting Council to obtain a site certificate for the project. Orion Energy also has been working closely with Sherman County throughout the development process to ensure the project meets local needs. Additionally, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) will provide engineering and construction expertise to develop the transmission infrastructure and connect the project into the region's grid.
"This certainly is a project with true cooperation at its core," Lobdell said. "Sherman County landowners and Orion Energy, in addition to BPA, did a tremendous job bringing the project agreement together and helping shape it to meet our needs. These landowners and organizations will be instrumental in helping us move the project forward, if it is approved and deemed feasible."
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