Bellevue, Wash., February 29, 2012 — The Lower Snake River Wind Facility-Phase I began commercial operations, providing Puget Sound Energy’s 1.1 million electric customers with more renewable, emissions-free power.
The new facility’s 149 wind turbines — set among the wind-blown farm lands of Garfield County, in southeast Washington — will generate enough electricity, on average, to power about 100,000 homes.
The 343 MW Lower Snake River project is PSE‘s third wind farm. The utility’s 157 MW Hopkins Ridge Wind Facility, built in 2005, is in Columbia County. The 273-MW Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility, built in 2006 and expanded in 2009, is in Kittitas County. Together, the three sites generate enough electricity, on average, to meet the total power requirements of about 230,000 households.
PSE began construction of the Lower Snake River Wind Facility in May 2010 with the help of lead contractor Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc., wind turbine manufacturer Siemens Energy, and a variety of subcontractors. PSE also partnered with RES on the construction of the utility’s Hopkins Ridge and Wild Horse wind farms.
About 25 permanent employees from PSE and Siemens Energy now operate the facility and maintain its wind turbines. They are based out of PSE’s new operations and maintenance center in Pomeroy. About 150 workers, on average, were on site during the Lower Snake River project’s two-year construction, though the number at times exceeded 250.
The Lower Snake River wind farm spans more than 21,600 acres in western Garfield County. The footprint of its wind turbines, substations, access roads and eight-mile corridor of transmission-line poles covers 200 acres; the rest of the site remains available for farming, livestock grazing and open space. Nearly the entire site is privately owned agricultural land.
The wind facility’s power output ties into the Northwest electric grid at the Bonneville Power Administration’s newly completed Central Ferry substation, constructed along the wind farm’s northern boundary. Lower Snake River power moves across BPA transmission lines to reach PSE’s distribution system. Ninety-nine percent of PSE’s electric customers reside west of the Cascades in eight Puget Sound counties (the remaining customers are in Kittitas County).