By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now
Officials gathered in a tiny corner of Utah yesterday to celebrate a new age of energy production that will carry the power of the wind to where it is needed most, in this case, to population centers in California.
The occasion was the opening of the “Milford Wind Corridor Project,” which is expected to generate enough electricity to power about 45,000 Southern California homes.
The project by First Wind, an independent power company based in Boston, is the largest renewable energy facility in Utah and comprises 97 giant wind turbines. This first phase of the project cost nearly $86 million (including “indirect” spending on wages and taxes) and created 250 development and construction jobs, according to a spokesman for the company.
Those attending the ribbon-cutting outside Milford, included Utah Lt. Governor Greg Bell and officials with the federal Bureau of Land Management, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), the cities of Burbank and Pasadena and the Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA).
“This development primes Utah’s economic engine, while also protecting our environment,” said Bell. “We’re pleased this project is online and look forward to the next phases of the project getting underway.”
“Not only is this First Wind’s largest project to date, but it is the largest wind farm in Utah and one of the largest in the West. We’re looking forward to expanding it in the months and years to come,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind. “This project is a great example of the kind of development that helps create jobs and helps stimulate the economy.”
The details of the project:
- The 97 wind turbines include 58 2.5-MW wind turbines and 39 1.5-MW turbines. Components of the large turbines are made in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The smaller wind turbines, made by General Electric, are made outside the US.
- It was financed with the help of the Royal Bank of Scotland, which helped arrange a package of financing through many other foreign banks.
- Compared with traditional electricity generation by oil- or coal-powered plants, the Milford project will save 210,000 tons of carbon dioxide in a year, the equivalent of taking 37,000 cars off the road.
- The project is the first wind energy facility permitted under the Bureau of Land Management’s “Wind Energy Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement” for Western States. Selma Sierra, Utah state director for the BLM lauded it as an example of how quickly and efficiently the US can produce “positive, clean, renewable energy” when federal and state agencies partner with private industry.
- The project broke ground in Nov. 2008, bringing its first phase to fruition in just under a year
- The project helps fulfill a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) that First Wind completed in 2007 with Southern Califronai Public Power AUthroity (SCPPA) on behalf of the LA Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and the cities of Burbank and Pasadena.
“This is another significant source of renewable energy that will help us meet Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s and the City of LA’s goal to achieve 20 percent renewables by 2010, reduce our carbon footprint, fight global warming, and foster cleaner air,” said LADWP General Manager S. David Freeman.
First Wind also is working on a project in Maine, and announced earlier this month that it has contracted with Harvard University to be a buyer of that wind. Harvard expects the wind farm to supply at least 10 percent of its power needs at its Cambridge and Allston campuses. The wind project, called the Stetson II, is near Danforth, Maine.
Back in California, the SCPPA will soon be gathering more wind from another source, a Cannon Power Group wind farm in Washington state.
Cannon, a veteran in the wind energy field with installations around the world, announced today that it has received $19.4 million in federal renewable energy grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to start construction of a 400 megawatt wind farm in Washington state. The power from the Windy Point/Windy Flats project will be used by California cities.
This new project is expected to take 18 months and employ more than 300 people in construction and permanent jobs, providing a “much needed financial cushion for many area families,” noted Gary Hardke, president and managing director of Cannon, which is based in San Diego.
The project is expected to produce enough electricity to supply more than 250,000 households.
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