Â“Wind energy is now a proven performer for meeting our customersÂ’ growing demand,Â” said Kimberly Harris, executive vice president and chief resource officer for PSE. Â“Not long ago, wind power was only a concept. Today, it is a clean, renewable resource for helping combat climate change.Â”
PSE is the largest utility generator of renewable energy in the Northwest, with its two wind facilities producing enough electricity, on average, to meet the equivalent of the needs of approximately 100,000 homes. PSE owns and operates the Hopkins Ridge Wind Facility in Columbia County, Wash., and the Wild Horse Wind Facility in Kittitas County, Wash.
Hopkins Ridge, near the historic city of Dayton, began operation in November 2005 and has 87 wind turbines with the capacity to produce 150 megawatts (MW) of electricity. It reached the 1 million MWh mark of cumulative energy production on June 3, 2008. Wild Horse, located east of Ellensburg, entered service in December 2006 and has 127 wind turbines with the capacity to produce 229 MW of electricity. It reached the 1 million MWh mark on July 4, 2008. PSE is completing construction on four additional turbines at Hopkins Ridge, and recently announced plans to expand Wild Horse with an additional 26 turbines by late 2009.
Â“Hopkins Ridge and Wild Horse have exceeded our expectations,Â” Harris said. Â“This year, both facilities are producing about 6 percent more electricity than our meteorological and engineering studies had predicted, and have shown themselves to be reliable resources throughout the year.Â”
In addition to the energy they generated, the two PSE facilities have had a significant economic impact on the local communities near which they operate. Combined, the two facilities have paid more than $3.3 million in state, county and local taxes since going into operation. Each has also generated more than 20 permanent jobs in their home communities and 150 to 250 temporary jobs during construction.
The Kittitas ValleyÂ’s role in providing clean energy through wind and solar power is showcased in PSEÂ’s Renewable Energy Center, a visitor center offering a first-hand look at operating wind turbines and solar photovoltaic panels. Open to the public for the first time in April 2008, the center has already welcomed more than 6,500 visitors. The center is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. seven days a week from April through November, excluding during severe weather.