First Wind, an independent U.S.-based renewable energy company, and Avista commemorated the generation of 150,000 MWh by the Palouse Wind project since its start of commercial operations in December 2012. Since the Palouse Wind project went online, it has brought significant long-term tax revenue to Whitman County while generating enough clean energy to power the homes of about 30,000 Avista customers. Governor Jay Inslee joined industry and community leaders to celebrate the successful operation of First Wind’s Palouse project.
“There is enormous potential to grow Washington’s clean energy economy and developments, like the Palouse Wind project, are helping us do just that,” said Gov. Inslee. “This project is not only creating good jobs and economic opportunity here in Eastern Washington, but it’s also generating clean, emissions-free energy. As we work toward developing our clean and energy independent future, we’re glad to welcome projects like this one to our state.”
Washington State Department of Agriculture Director Don “Bud” Hover, Department of Commerce Director Brian Bonlender and Economic Development and Competitiveness Director Richard Locke were also on hand during the event today.
As the largest renewable energy facility in Whitman County, the 105 MW project features 58 state-of-the-art Vestas V100-1.8 MW turbines installed between the town of Oakesdale and State Route 195 on the hills surrounding Naff Ridge. During construction the Palouse Wind project pumped more than $25 million of direct spending into the regional economy and created hundreds of construction-related jobs and drove significant revenue for local businesses.
Avista is purchasing the energy produced by the Palouse Wind project under a 30-year power purchase agreement and is taking delivery of the power through a direct interconnection to Avista’s 230 kV transmission line. This is the first wind project built in Avista’s service territory and it is helping Avista achieve its goal of providing reliable energy to its customers at a reasonable cost, while helping meet Washington state renewable portfolio standards, now and into the future.
First Wind reported the following economic and environmental benefits associated with its production milestone:
- A major investment in Whitman County and the Inland Northwest; increased spending will benefit a wide range of local businesses and residents, including $1.5 million each year during operations.
- Whitman County will receive about $12 million over the next 20 years in property tax revenues, or about $700,000 annually, which can be used to lower tax rates, improve schools, maintain roads and enhance local services.
- Traditional fossil fuel generation sources producing an equivalent annual amount of electric energy would emit greenhouse gases (GHG) consisting of nearly 65,000 tons of carbon dioxide.
The project’s construction in 2012 was overseen by the general contractor RMT. The equivalent of more than 200 people worked on the project over the course of a year.
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