Portland General Electric (PGE) Company this week announced the start of commercial power generation at the Wheatridge Renewable Energy Facility in Eastern Oregon. Wheatridge is a joint project of PGE and a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, which combines wind, solar and battery storage in what PGE says is one of the first for the country.
The 300-megawatt wind farm located just northeast of Lexington in Morrow County, Oregon, is now complete and delivering power to PGE customers. The 50-megawatt solar and 30-megawatt battery facilities will be completed by the end of 2021.
Wheatridge’s wind farm generates power using 120 wind turbines manufactured by GE. The facility uses a mix of 2.3- and 2.5-MW machines. Final selection of the specific equipment to be used at the associated solar farm and battery storage facility is still pending.
Power from the project will reach PGE customers in Portland and the north Willamette Valley via a new transmission line, constructed by Umatilla Electric Cooperative, that connects Wheatridge locally with the Bonneville Power Administration’s regional high-voltage grid.
This new facility will play an important role in achieving PGE’s recently established companywide goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.
“An important community effort like Wheatridge needs teamwork, and I’m happy to have teamed up over the years with PGE, Umatilla Electric, Morrow County, farmers like Jerry Rietmann and all the local officials to help this exciting Eastern Oregon project get over any hurdles,” U.S. Senator Ron Wyden said. “The latest good news about the wind farm part of this innovative renewable energy project will have huge benefits when it comes both to facing the climate crisis and generating good rural jobs.”
With the addition of Wheatridge’s wind farm, PGE’s wind generation portfolio now totals more than 1,000 megawatts (one gigawatt) nameplate capacity, available from five owned or contracted wind farms in the Northwest. When complete, the solar and battery storage facilities will be among the largest in Oregon.
“Customers want and expect cleaner, greener energy sources,” said Maria Pope, PGE president and CEO. “This is an exciting step toward completion of this important resource and adds to our growing wind generation portfolio. We deeply appreciate the partnerships that make the Wheatridge project possible, with NextEra and with the transmission services teams at the Bonneville Power Administration and Umatilla Electric Cooperative.”
Up to 300 jobs were created at Wheatridge during construction of the wind farm; up to 175 workers will be employed to build the solar and storage sites. Approximately 10 full-time employees will operate the combined facilities once all three components are fully commissioned for service.
“Our long-term partnership with PGE has created family-wage jobs in our community and brought clean-energy innovations like the Wheatridge Energy Facility,” said Ryan Neal, general manager of the Port of Morrow. “This makes our region more attractive, competitive and desirable for residents and business.”
Ownership and construction
The project’s early development work as a wind farm was performed by Swaggart Wind Power, LLC, an affiliate of MAP Energy. NextEra Energy Resources purchased the development rights and together with PGE expanded the project scope to include solar generation and battery storage.
PGE now owns 100 megawatts of the wind project. A subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources owns the balance of the project and will sell its output to PGE under 30-year power purchase agreements. The NextEra Energy Resources’ subsidiary is building and will operate the combined facility.
PGE expects to invest approximately $155 million for its owned portion of the project.