GE announced on Dec. 10 it has received a $1.4 billion contract from independent power producer Caithness Energy to supply wind turbines and provide services for an 845-megawatt (MW) wind farm project to be located in Oregon. The wind farm, called Shepherds Flat, has received the majority of the necessary government permits to operate and is ready to be built. When completed it will be larger than any wind farm currently in operation around the globe.
Stretching across 30 square miles of Gilliam and Morrow Counties in north-central Oregon, near the town of Arlington, the 845-megawatt Shepherds Flat project marks the U.S. debut and largest single global order of GEs 2.5xl wind turbines. A total of 338 turbines will be installed in 2011 and 2012.
"The 2.5-MW wind turbine is the latest evolution of GEs wind turbine technology and provides customers with greater efficiency, reliability and grid connection capabilities. The 2.5-MW builds upon the success of GEs 1.5-MW wind turbine, the world's most widely deployed wind turbine with more than 12,000 installed," said Steve Bolze, CEO of GE Power & Water.
Caithness Energy estimates that the $2 billion project will inject $16 million annually of direct economic benefits into Oregon, and will employ 400 workers during construction and 35 during operation. Construction will be on a grand scale not only because of the large number of turbines, but because 85 miles of road and 90 miles of power connection to the grid will be built. Construction will begin in 2010 and will be completed in 2012.
GE Energy Financial Services -- with a portfolio of more than 40 wind farms with a total capacity to produce more than 6 Gigawatts of electricity -- is investing in the project.
In addition to supplying the wind turbines, GE will provide ten years of operational and maintenance services to the project.
The 2.5xl wind turbines for the Shepherds Flat wind farm will be assembled at GE's site in Pensacola, Fla."Our capability to build these machines here in the United States and provide local resources and expertise were key factors in winning the contract with Caithness Energy," Bolze noted.
Under three 20-year power purchase agreements, the Shepherds Flat wind farm will supply renewable energy to Southern California Edison, an Edison International company.
The project will help California meet both its capacity needs and renewable energy goals. With the capacity to generate two billion kilowatt-hours per year of renewable energy, the wind farm will represent more than one-tenth of Southern California Edison's overall renewable energy portfolio. The project will provide enough clean energy to power approximately 235,000 average California households according to US Environmental Protection Agency methodology and will avoid more than 1.5 million tons a year in greenhouse gas emissions, compared to equivalent fossil fuel generation.