Arlington, Ore., April 18, 2011 — Google and subsidiaries of Itochu Corp. and Sumitomo Corp. have joined GE unit GE Energy Financial Services and developer and managing member Caithness Energy as owners the 845-MW Shepherds Flat wind project under construction near Arlington, Oregon.
Google, Itochu Corp. unit Tyr Energy and Sumitomo Corp. unit Sumitomo Corp. of America are investing about $500 million in the $2 billion project. Additional financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.
The Shepherds Flat wind project stretches across 30 square miles of Gilliam and Morrow Counties in north-central Oregon. Once completed next year, the project will generate enough energy to supply more than 235,000 average U.S. homes, and will avoid about 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide from about 260,000 passenger vehicles.
* California-based Internet giant Google has now invested over $350 million in the clean energy sector, including two recent investments in a German photovoltaic power plant, and BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, under construction in California.
* Tokyo-based Itochu Corp. owns, operates and is developing more than 15 power generation facilities across the United States through Tyr Energy. Itochu entered into a collaboration and cooperation agreement with GE last year to identify co-investment opportunities in renewable energy worldwide. Under the agreement, it partnered with GE Energy Financial Services on the 152-MW CPV Keenan II wind farm in Oklahoma.
* Tokyo-based Sumitomo Corp. has accumulated an about 5,300-MW global power generation portfolio, including assets owned by New York-based subsidiary Sumitomo Corp. of America. Sumitomo’s wind energy assets include the 120-MW Stanton, Texas wind farm jointly owned with GE Energy Financial Services, as well as two operating wind farms in Japan and one in China.
Construction is proceeding in three phases. All turbine foundations have been completed and electrical work and road construction are nearing completion on the first 265-megawatt phase; road and turbine foundation construction is more than half complete on the second 290-MW phase; and road construction and foundation construction are continuing on the third 290-MW phase.
Wind turbine shipments to the site are expected to begin this spring. Construction involves not only the erection of 338 turbines, but development of 95 miles of roads and 167 miles of transmission lines. Caithness Energy has estimated that the project will inject $16 million annually of direct economic benefits into Oregon, and will employ 400 workers during construction and 35 during operation.
The project will use GE Energy’s 2.5xl wind turbines, which are larger than its other models and use permanent magnet generators — turbine technology that improves efficiency, reliability and grid connection, helping to lower wind energy costs.
The 2.5xl wind turbines for the Shepherds Flat wind farm are assembled at GE’s site in Pensacola, Florida. In addition to supplying the wind turbines, GE will provide operational and maintenance services to the project.
Under three 20-year power purchase agreements, the Shepherds Flat wind farm will supply renewable energy to Southern California Edison, an Edison International company, helping California meet its renewable energy goals.