POMEROY, Wash.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Puget Sound Energy and Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. (RES Americas) filed a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) application on Jan. 26 with Garfield County marking a significant step in bringing greater economic benefits from wind energy to Southeast Washington. The permit application follows the two companies’ December 2008 agreement to develop and construct the Lower Snake River Wind Energy Project, new wind energy facility they are planning in Washington’s Garfield and Columbia counties.
“Wind power brings a proven boost to the local economy, and is a great fit with wheat and grain farming in the area,” said Anne Walsh, senior project manager at PSE’s Dayton office. “PSE and RES Americas look forward to working with the community to create new wind facilities that will create jobs, increase tax revenues and drive diverse business opportunities to Pomeroy, Dayton and the region.”
According to the CUP filing, the Lower Snake River Wind Energy Project is planned to produce up to 1,250 megawatts (MW) of new wind energy in the region, with an anticipated 800 MW generated by approximately 440 turbines in Garfield County and an anticipated 450 MW generated by approximately 250 turbines in Columbia County. Final energy capacity and turbine layouts will be determined through the state and county permitting processes and complete evaluation of the available wind resources and environmental impacts. The project is designed to be built in phases, with construction on support infrastructure targeted to begin in 2010.
“The Lower Snake River Wind Energy Project will expand the economic benefits and opportunities already created by wind power already seen in Columbia County,” said Scott Piscitello, vice president of development for RES Americas in Southeast Washington. “The Hopkins Ridge and Marengo I and II facilities have brought a new source of income to the region, and have lowered the tax burden on homeowners.”
In Columbia County, the existing wind facilities with 204 wind turbines and a capacity of 367 MW accounted for an increase in direct employment by providing approximately 170 full-time jobs during construction and 39 full-time, permanent operations jobs. Each year local government services benefit from approximately $1.3 million in additional annual tax revenues generated by the existing wind facilities. The existing Columbia County wind facilities were built so that more than 98 percent of the land remains available for farming. The Lower Snake River Wind Energy Project will follow that example in being an excellent fit with the region’s agricultural tradition. After construction, temporarily disturbed areas are returned to their previous condition.
The Hopkins Ridge Wind Facility in Columbia County was developed and constructed by RES Americas, and is now owned and operated by PSE. In addition to Hopkins Ridge, PSE owns and operates the 229 MW Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility in Kittitas County, which was constructed by PSE and RES Americas. Separately, RES Americas developed and built the Marengo and Marengo II projects (also in Columbia County) owned by PacifiCorp of Portland, Ore.
A public open house with information on wind energy’s economic and community benefits will be held Feb. 4, from 5 to 8 p.m., at Pomeroy High School, 121 10th Street, Pomeroy. This informational open house is sponsored by the Southeast Washington Economic Development Association and the Pomeroy Chamber of Commerce as an opportunity for area residents to learn more about wind energy, and is separate from any official public comment process.
Garfield County officials will lead the CUP and state environmental impact statement processes. PSE and RES Americas expect to file a CUP application in Columbia County later in 2009.
Washington state's oldest and largest energy utility, with a 6,000-square-mile service area stretching across 11 counties, Puget Sound Energy serves more than 1 million electric customers and nearly 750,000 natural gas customers. PSE, a subsidiary of Puget Energy (NYSE:PSD), meets the energy needs of its growing customer base primarily in Western Washington through incremental, cost-effective energy conservation, procurement of sustainable energy resources, and far-sighted investment in the energy-delivery infrastructure. PSE employees are dedicated to providing great customer service to deliver energy that is safe, reliable, reasonably priced, and environmentally responsible. For more information, visit www.PSE.com.
Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. (RES Americas) is a fully-integrated wind energy company that develops, constructs, owns and operates wind projects across the Untied States and Canada. By the end of 2008, RES Americas constructed more than 3,400 MW of renewable energy and has over 15,000 MW in development. It has developed or constructed more than 12 percent of the operating wind projects nationwide, and developed or constructed 20 percent of the operating wind projects completed in the U.S. in 2007.
RES Americas’ corporate office is located in Denver, CO with regional offices in Austin, TX, Portland, OR, Minneapolis, MN and Montreal, Quebec, Canada. RES Americas continues to seek new locations for wind projects as well as opportunities to participate in other forms of renewable energy. For more information please visit www.res-americas.com.
Puget Sound Energy
Andy Wappler, 1.888.831.7250
Raheleh Folkerts, 1.303.439.4200