Puget Sound Energy opens wind farm visitor center

Ellensburg, Wash., March 19, 2012 — The Renewable Energy Center at Puget Sound Energy‘s Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility, about a two-hour drive east of Seattle, opens April 1 for the 2012 tourist season.

The visitor center is open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., from April through November (weather permitting). Free guided tours of PSE’s 273 MW renewable power operation occur daily at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., with no reservation required. Tours and presentations for private groups, including tour-bus groups, also can be scheduled.

Visitors to Wild Horse not only learn about wind energy from the center’s informational displays, but also from guided hikes past operating wind turbines and one of the Pacific Northwest’s largest solar power arrays.

During spring, the center’s trails also allow visitors to stroll among magnificent wildflower displays of hedgehog cacti and other shrub-steppe vegetation. Elk, deer, coyote, rabbits and other wildlife often are seen in the area.

Perched at 3,500 feet on the slopes of Whiskey Dick Mountain, the center provides spectacular views of Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount Hood and the Columbia River gorge.

Recreational activities such as hiking, horseback riding, hunting and bird watching are allowed at Wild Horse beyond the guided-tour trails near the Renewable Energy Center. However, public access in these outer areas of the wind farm requires a written permit.

The Fourth Annual Wildflower and Wind Power Walk will be held at Wild Horse on Saturday, April 28 and Saturday, May 12. Specially guided hikes and presentations by naturalists and native-plant enthusiasts will be offered on those days.

Completed in 2006 and expanded in 2009, the Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility contains 149 wind turbines and 2,723 solar panels that together generate enough electricity to power about 70,000 households. Since it opened in 2008, the site’s Renewable Energy Center has welcomed more than 82,000 visitors, including more than 1,100 school and community groups.

PSE is the Northwest’s largest utility producer of wind power. The utility owns and operates three wind farms in Washington. On average, the three facilities generate enough electricity to serve about 230,000 homes.

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