Washington Utility Moves on New Wind Project

Puget Sound Energy announced its second wind power project in Washington State, bringing the utility’s proposed ownership of wind energy to nearly 400 MW. The company recently signed a contract (LOI) with Blue Sky Wind seeking to acquire complete ownership of the proposed Hopkins Ridge Wind Project located in Eastern Washington’s Columbia County.

An estimated cost to complete the project is US $200 million. If permitting and other critical activities go as planned, the project could begin providing Puget Sound Energy (PSE) customers with 150 MW of wind power by sometime between late 2005 to mid-2006. “This letter of intent brings PSE another step closer to achieving the goal of supplying at least five percent of our customers’ total electricity needs with renewable resources by 2013,” said Eric Markell, PSE senior vice president of Energy Resources. “Wind power projects, like Hopkins Ridge and Wild Horse, will help Puget Sound Energy diversify its resource portfolio. Over the long term, our balanced portfolio strategy will provide more local control over the power supply and minimize the risk to our customers from a volatile short-term energy market.” The proposed Hopkins Ridge Project is situated on 11,000 acres of remote, open wheat fields approximately 15 miles northeast of Dayton, Wa. As proposed, it would feature approximately 80, 1.8-MW wind turbines providing up to 150 MW of capacity, enough energy to power 50,000 homes. The energy from Hopkins Ridge will be delivered to PSE’s service territory by Bonneville Power Administration’s transmission system via an interconnection with their 115 kV North Lewiston-Walla Walla transmission line. PSE’s decision to pursue the Hopkins Ridge proposal followed an extensive review process that started when the company issued an “all-source” request for proposals in February. PSE reviewed numerous proposals featuring a variety of generation technologies, including more than 40 proposal options from 10 developers of new wind-power projects in the Pacific Northwest that taken together represented approximately 1,800 MW of renewable energy. This latest development, along with PSE’s recently announced intention to purchase the proposed 230-MW Wild Horse Wind Power Project in Washington state’s Kittitas County, is part of PSE’s strategic plan to diversify its supply portfolio by adding secure low-cost resources for its growing customer base. “Puget Sound Energy is demonstrating true leadership,” said Sara Patton, executive director of NW Energy Coalition, a regional non-profit public-interest coalition that promotes clean and affordable energy. “PSE is not merely examining how wind power can benefit its customers, it is moving forward with projects. PSE is ahead of the pack when it comes to actually acquiring substantial wind resources.” “Blue Sky Wind is working together with the local community to ensure the project moves smoothly through the permitting process,” said Markell. With the non-binding LOI agreement signed, PSE and Blue Sky Wind will begin evaluation and negotiation focusing on details such as development, wind resource and turbine siting, equipment procurement, construction and facility operations. The parties intend to sign binding definitive agreements once such matters are made final. A construction period of approximately nine months is anticipated once a notice-to-proceed is issued to key contractors.
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