PSE and RES Americas to develop wind in Washington State

WASHINGTON STATE - Puget Sound Energy, the largest utility-owner of renewable energy in the Pacific Northwest, and RES Americas, a leading developer and constructor of wind power across the nation, announced they have entered into an agreement to jointly develop and construct new wind energy generating facilities in Washington State's Columbia and Garfield counties.

“PSE and RES Americas have worked together successfully on PSE's Hopkins Ridge and Wild Horse wind facilities,” says Kimberly Harris, executive vice president and chief resource officer for PSE. “We look to build on our prior success in Columbia and Kittitas counties by developing additional wind energy projects that will further enhance renewable energy resources, contribute to energy independence and bring new jobs and tax revenues to southeast Washington.”

Craig Mataczynski, president of RES Americas, said, “RES Americas and PSE bring some unique strengths to developing wind energy projects. RES Americas has a great breadth of experience in design and construction across the United States, while PSE has strong ties to the communities in which it operates. Together, we have a track record of projects that meet the challenge of climate change while also creating jobs and business opportunities.”

PSE and RES Americas have begun preliminary studies in Columbia and Garfield counties for future wind energy development, which they believe will offer significant environmental and economic benefits. Completed on December 5, the joint development agreement calls for the two companies to work together on potential wind energy facilities in Columbia and Garfield counties. PSE and RES Americas have applied to the Bonneville Power Administration for up to 1250 megawatts (MW) of transmission interconnection to support potential future wind projects in southeast Washington.

The region includes PSE's Hopkins Ridge Wind Facility near Dayton in Columbia County, which opened in 2005 after being developed and constructed by RES Americas. In addition, RES Americas constructed PSE's Wild Horse Wind Facility, which opened in 2006 near Ellensburg in Kittitas County, and has been selected by PSE as primary contractor in a planned expansion of Wild Horse slated for 2009. Working with PacifiCorp, RES Americas also developed and built the Marengo I and II facilities in Columbia County.

“The Hopkins Ridge and Marengo facilities have shown their value in providing jobs and expanding the tax base, and are an excellent fit with existing agricultural uses for area landowners,” says Harris. “Our experience in southeast Washington bodes well for potential wind energy projects in Columbia and Garfield counties and for the associated economic benefits for residents and business as well as local government services, including fire departments, hospitals, libraries and schools.”

Community leaders greeted the news of the joint development agreement enthusiastically, crediting wind energy projects with adding vitality to the area's economy.

“Wind power and wheat farming are a wonderful fit together, and the joint development agreement between PSE and RES Americas offers tremendous potential for helping families stay in the community,” says Jennie Dickinson, manager of the Port of Columbia and a member of Citizens for Economic Diversity, a grassroots organization of Columbia County landowners and residents. “We've seen the benefits of Hopkins Ridge and Marengo, and look forward to even greater opportunities in Dayton and Pomeroy in the future.”

In 2008, the Hopkins Ridge facility, capable of generating 157 megawatts, expanded by adding four new turbines and paid more than $900,000 in property taxes to Columbia County, while the Wild Horse facility, capable of generating 229 MW and in the process of expanding to 273 MW, paid more than $1.3 million in property taxes to Kittitas County. In addition, more than 175 construction jobs were created at Hopkins Ridge and more than 250 during the building of Wild Horse. Today, the facilities continue to account for about two dozen permanent maintenance and operations jobs at each site.

Any future wind energy facilities are expected to make further positive impacts to the local tax base, employment growth and economic opportunities, including the income realized by participating landowners through royalty payments received for wind energy production.

PSE and RES Americas plan to immediately begin working collaboratively on potential wind power development projects in Columbia and Garfield counties.


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