Bellevue, WA, Dec. 2, 2005 — The winds that regularly sweep across southeast Washington’s expansive wheat fields are now helping to illuminate the million-plus homes and businesses receiving electric service from Puget Sound Energy (PSE).
PSE announced the completion of its Hopkins Ridge wind-power project, located about 285 miles southeast of Seattle. The $200 million power-generating facility makes PSE the only Northwest utility to solely own and operate a large wind farm. PSE expects to have a second wind farm operational in late 2006.
The Hopkins Ridge Wind Project has 83 massive wind turbines, all standing 335 feet high from the ground to the vertical tip of their 262-foot-diameter, three-blade rotors. The turbine towers are spread across 11,000 acres of mostly privately owned range and farm land.
When all 83 turbines are running at peak capacity, they can generate 150 megawatts of electricity — enough energy on an average basis to supply about 50,000 homes. On Nov. 26 the Columbia County wind farm averaged 111 megawatts of power generation over a 24-hour period for PSE customers.
Kittitas County will be the site for the next wind farm — the Wild Horse Wind Project. Wild Horse will be a facility with 127 wind turbines capable of generating up to 230 megawatts of power. The project will be built on the slopes of Whisky Dick Mountain, about 125 miles east of Seattle.
PSE’s goal is to serve up to 10 percent of its customers’ total electricity needs by 2013 from renewable resources. Once the utility’s second wind project becomes operational, about 5 percent of PSE’s power supply will be renewable.
Each Hopkins Ridge turbine has a generator and gearbox housed inside a 77-ton nacelle fixed atop a 220-foot-tall tower. The project’s power output travels through 93 miles of underground cable to a substation, and then moves over a high-voltage Bonneville Power Administration line to PSE’s power grid.
Puget Sound Energy built 18 miles of roads to service the towers. Eighteen workers will staff the Hopkins Ridge project and PSE’s local office in Dayton.