Washington Gov. Inslee, First Wind, Avista celebrate Palouse Wind Project milestone

Washington Gov. Inslee, First Wind, Avista celebrate Palouse Wind Project milestone

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) joined wind developer First Wind and investor-owned utility Avista yesterday to commemorate the generation of 150,000 megawatt hours (MWh) by the Palouse Wind project since its start of commercial operations in December 2012.

Since the project went on line, it has brought significant long-term tax revenue to Whitman County while generating enough clean energy to power the homes of about 30,000 Avista customers.

“There is enormous potential to grow Washington’s clean energy economy and developments like the Palouse Wind project are helping us do just that,” said Gov. Inslee. “This project is not only creating good jobs and economic opportunity here in Eastern Washington, but it’s also generating clean, emissions-free energy. As we work toward developing our clean and energy independent future, we’re glad to welcome projects like this one to our state.”

Gov. Inslee (third from left), First Wind CEO Paul Gaynor (left), and Vestas
Americas President Chris Brown (right) at the Palouse project

Washington State Department of Agriculture Director Don “Bud” Hover, Department of Commerce Director Brian Bonlender and Economic Development and Competitiveness Director Richard Locke were also on hand during the event.

As the largest renewable energy facility in Whitman County, the 105-MW project features 58 state-of-the-art Vestas V100 1.8-MW turbines installed between the town of Oakesdale and State Route 195 on the hills surrounding Naff Ridge. During construction the Palouse Wind project pumped more than $25 million of direct spending into the regional economy and created hundreds of construction-related jobs, as well as significant revenue for local businesses.

“Producing 150,000 MWh of clean, renewable wind energy at our Palouse Wind project represents a significant environmental and economic milestone for First Wind, the local community and our many project partners including Avista, Vestas and RMT,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind. “We are proud to help contribute to Washington’s clean energy goals through the successful energy production from the area’s largest renewable energy facility. With the support of local leaders and people like Gov. Inslee, Washington State will see the development of new renewable projects in the years to come.”

Avista is purchasing the energy produced by the Palouse Wind project under a 30-year power purchase agreement and is taking delivery of the power through a direct interconnection to Avista’s 230 kilovolt (kV) transmission line. This is the first wind project built in Avista’s service territory and it is helping Avista achieve its goal of providing reliable energy to its customers at a reasonable cost, while helping meet Washington state renewable portfolio standards, now and into the future.

“Adding the energy produced by the Palouse Wind project to Avista’s generation portfolio is in keeping with our company’s 125-year legacy of clean, renewable power at a reasonable cost for our customers,” said Scott Morris, chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer of Avista Corp.

First Wind reported the following economic and environmental benefits associated with the production of the 150,000 MWh at the Palouse Wind project:

– A major investment in Whitman County and the Inland Northwest; increased spending will benefit a wide range of local businesses and residents, including $1.5 million each year during operations. Whitman County will receive approximately $12 million over the next 20 years in property tax revenues, or approximately $700,000 annually, which can be used to lower tax rates, improve schools, maintain roads and enhance local services.

– Traditional fossil fuel generation sources producing an equivalent annual amount of electric energy would emit greenhouse gases (GHG) consisting of nearly 65,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).

“We are glad to have worked with First Wind to build another successful clean-energy project in the Pacific Northwest,” said Chris Brown, President of Vestas’s U.S. sales and service division. “The Palouse Wind power plant has performed well since it began operating with over 98 percent availability. It also has created long-term jobs for local Vestas technicians who perform maintenance on these turbines.”

The project’s construction in 2012 was overseen by general contractor RMT.  “The Palouse Wind project is one of many successful projects that RMT has built for First Wind,” said John Kennedy, President of RMT. “We are proud to be part of First Wind’s team and the company’s efforts to build projects that deliver clean, renewable energy to homes and businesses, put people to work and create real economic opportunity.”

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