Large Oregon wind farm siting process moves forward

The Oregon Department of Energy is taking comment until May 19 on a draft proposed order for an Application for Site Certificate for the 500 MW Wheatridge Wind Energy Facility project.

The applicant is Wheatridge Wind Energy, a unit of Swaggart Wind Power. The DPO includes recommended conditions of approval for inclusion in the site certificate to ensure or maintain compliance with applicable rules and standards during the construction, operation and eventual retirement of the proposed facility.

In February 2013, the applicant submitted to the department a Notice of Intent to file an ASC. The department received the preliminary ASC in December 2014.

The proposed facility site boundary, located within Morrow and Umatilla counties, includes about 13,097 acres, with 11,395 acres in Morrow County and 1,702 acres in Umatilla County.

The proposed facility would be comprised of up to 292 turbines divided into two groups: Wheatridge West and Wheatridge East. Wheatridge West would be located entirely within Morrow County, bisected by Oregon Highway 207, about 5 miles northeast of Lexington and about 7 miles northwest of Heppner. Wheatridge East would be located about 16 miles northeast of Heppner and includes land in both Morrow and Umatilla counties.

The proposed facility site boundary includes a 1,000-foot-wide, up to 35-mile intraconnection corridor containing up to two overhead 230-kV transmission lines that would connect Wheatridge West and Wheatridge East. The intraconnection corridor would occupy about 1,626 of the 13,097 acres of the proposed facility site boundary. The proposed facility would be located on private land on which the applicant has negotiated or will negotiate long-term leases.

The facility consists of up to 292 turbines with a combined peak generating capacity of up to 500 MW. The applicant analyzed impacts for two different turbine models; therefore, the actual nameplate capacity depends on the turbine model selected and the number of turbines constructed. Selected turbines would range from 1.7 to 2.5 MW, with rotor diameters ranging from 337 to 393 feet and blades between 167 and 197 feet in length.

Swaggart Wind Power is a joint venture between Leprechaun Holdings and three investment funds managed by MAP Royalty Inc. Swaggart was formed to secure the real estate rights, permits, and interconnection rights necessary to construct and operate a wind energy facility in the proposed location.

Members of the applicant’s management team played a key role in the development of the following now operational wind facilities in the Pacific Northwest: the 200 MW Leaning Juniper IIa and IIb projects, the 98.6 MW Pebble Springs project, and the 24 MW Klondike project.

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Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy's Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication's editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor's degree from Central Michigan University.

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