Oregon's Biggest Wind Farm Comes Online, Shepherd's Flat

A huge new wind farm has come online in Oregon, one of the biggest in the world and the largest in that state.

At 845 megawatts (MW), Shepherd’s Flat traverses 30 acres along the Eastern Columbia Gorge in the northeast part of Oregon.

Caithness Energy built the project – its expected to inject $37 million into Oregon’s economy including paying farmers rent for placing turbines on their land.

Over 338 turbines will generate 2 billion kilowatt hours a year, eliminating 1.5 million metric tons of carbon each year, about the same as taking 260,000 cars off the road. It employed 400 people to build the farm in a time when work was hard to come by, and will provide permanent employment for 45 people.

The energy is being sent to California and has been fully purchased by Southern California Edison under a 20-year power purchase agreement. It will supply electricity to 235,000 homes.

Google invested $100 million in the project, among other investors, including GE Energy, and Japan’s Sumitomo Corp. The project uses GE’s 2.5 MW turbines – the first time they’re being deployed in North America. 

The project was one of the first to get a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) now notorious program, which the House recently chose to end when it passed its "No More Solyndras" bill. DOE gave Shepherd’s Flat a $1.3 billion partial loan guarantee through the Recovery Act in 2010.

"This project proves we can create jobs and lift up the rural economy by generating clean, carbon-free, renewable energy while still allowing local ranchers to graze their herds on the surrounding land just as they have for generations. That’s why I fought so hard to make sure Shepherds Flat stayed on track, and why I’m proud to be standing here today," says Senator Wyden (D-OR).

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