Puget Sound Energy’s Lower Snake River Wind Project in the wheat fields and rangeland of Southeastern Washington’s Garfield County reached a major milestone at the beginning of April with the completion of the first of 149 430-foot-tall turbines. When all the turbines are erected and operating in spring 2012, the facility will be PSE’s largest wind power operation and one of the largest in the Pacific Northwest – generating 343-megawatts of electricity, enough to serve more than 230,000 homes.
“One of the obvious benefits with wind power is zero emissions,” said Roger Thompson, PSE spokesman. “From a climate change standpoint, the environmental attributes are quite apparent. Another benefit is that fuel costs for utilities are essentially free.”
“This project, like our existing Hopkins Ridge and Wild Horse wind facilities, is supporting a cleaner, greener energy future for Washington state,” said Kimberly Harris, PSE president and CEO. “But more than that, it is creating good jobs and a stronger, more secure energy future for our nation.”
PSE, an AWB member since 1927, is pursuing federal stimulus-package funding and state incentives for using apprentice labor for at least 15 percent of the construction work. These incentives lower the cost of the project for the utility’s customers. In addition, the apprentice program supports skills training and apprentice development in a variety of trades.
Work is also progressing on the project’s 15,000 square-foot operations and maintenance building near Pomeroy. Approximately 25 permanent employees from PSE and Siemens Energy – the turbines’ manufacturer – will occupy the building once it opens this fall.
"It's exciting to see the first wind turbines going up at the Lower Snake River project," said Dean Burton, chairman of the Garfield County Commission. "Puget Sound Energy has been a strong partner in our community and its wind project is bringing a lot of benefits to the people of Garfield County."