Wind energy from north-central Oregon will power homes in Southern California when an 845-MW wind farm is completed in 2012. Turbine supplier GE and developer Caithness Energy LLC say the $2-billion project, with 338 wind turbines sprawling across 30 sq miles near the town of Arlington, Ore., will be the world’s largest operating wind farm.
Under a $1.4-billion contract, Fairfield, Conn.-based GE will furnish and deliver its newest 2.5-MW wind turbines and provide operational and maintenance services for the project for 10 years. Prior to GE’s development of the “2.5xl” turbine, its largest machine had a 1.5-MW capacity.
The larger turbine has been proven in Europe and Asia, but the Oregon project, called Shepherd’s Flat, will be its U.S. debut, GE officials say. Nacelles and hubs will be assembled at GE’s plant in Pensacola, Fla., says Milissa Rocker, a GE spokeswoman.
Caithness Energy, New York City, has three 20-year power-purchase agreements with Southern California Edison Co., Rosemead, Calif., for 100% of the wind farm’s output. The project will have the capacity to generate 2 million MW-hours per year and will represent more than 10% of Edison’s overall renewable-energy portfolio, officials say.
Installed wind-energy capacity is over 31,000 MW, with 5,800 MW installed in 2009 through the third quarter, according to the American Wind Energy Association. But wind-turbine manufacturing lags below 2008 levels, AWEA adds.
GE’s contract is the largest single component of the project’s cost. The project also will require construction of 85 miles of roads and 90 miles of transmission lines to connect to the grid. Towers and blades will be supplied by others, says Rocker, and she expects the erection to be done by another contractor as well.
Construction is scheduled to start in 2010 and be completed in 2012. When the project is fully operating, it will eclipse a 781.5-MW wind farm recently completed near Roscoe, Texas.