Bellevue, Washington [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] Puget Sound Energy began construction this week on the 150 MW Hopkins Ridge Wind Project in southeastern Washington State. RES America Construction, the key contractor for the project, started building the roadwork necessary to install and maintain more than 80 wind turbines for the first phase of the construction project.If construction stays on track the wind development could start supplying power to the local electric grid by late in 2005 at the earliest. “The Hopkins Ridge Wind Project will be an excellent addition to our portfolio of electric resources,” said Eric Markell, Puget Sound Energy (PSE) senior vice president of Energy Resources. “It will provide more control over our power supply and minimize the risk to our customers from a volatile short-term energy market.” PSE completed an acquisition contract with UK-based Blue Sky Wind earlier this month, and will own the Hopkins Ridge development plus all of the wind energy created there. The utility anticipates spending up to $200 million on the project, which includes approximately $180 million to acquire and construct the wind farm, $10 million to fund upgrades to the transmission systems of the Bonneville Power Administration and other regional transmission providers, and the balance on development, transaction and financing costs. “Hopkins Ridge and Puget Sound Energy will be great additions to our community,” Dwight Robanske, a Columbia County commissioner said. “The project will create new local jobs during both construction and operation phases, as well as provide approximately $1.3 million in taxes annually for local schools and other public services.” Hopkins Ridge is situated on 11,000 acres of remote, open wheat fields approximately 15 miles northeast of Dayton, Washington. It will feature more than 80 Vestas wind turbines rated at 1.8 MW each. Total, the development should provide up to 150 MW of energy capacity, which is enough to serve 50,000 homes. The energy from the project will be delivered to PSE’s service territory by the Bonneville Power Administration’s transmission system. The Hopkins Ridge acquisition, along with PSE’s letter of intent to purchase the proposed 230-MW Wild Horse Wind Power Project in Washington state’s Kittitas County, is part of the utility’s strategic plan to diversify its supply portfolio by adding secure low-cost resources for its growing customer base.