Colorado firm plans 600-megawatt Horse Heaven Wind Farm

A 600-megawatt wind farm south of Kennewick will employ 300 during construction and help cement the region’s status as Washington’s center for wind energy.

Scout Clean Energy of Boulder, Colorado, will apply for a conditional use permit from Benton County for its Horse Heaven Wind Farm project later this year.

Pat Landess, spokesman for Scout, said the project is on schedule although it has had to change its public outreach strategy because of the coronavirus pandemic and Washington’s continuing stay-home orders. It is communicating updates via a Facebook page.

The wind farm will be developed in phases on 60,000 acres in the Jump Off Joe area south of the Tri-Cities. Demand will drive the construction schedule. Work begins in 2021, with commercial operations beginning in 2022.

“The ridges here have abundant wind resources that make the location ideal for a wind energy development,” Landess said.

There are more than 3,000 megawatts of wind energy in Washington, or 1,725 turbines that represent 7.3 percent of all in-state power production, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

The Mid-Columbia has long been a critical player in renewable wind energy in Washington. The Stateline Wind Project, which debuted in 2001, straddles the Washington-Oregon border at Wallula Junction. It was one of the first and largest wind installations in the region.

The company will install up to 212 General Electric wind turbines, each costing about $4 million, or $850 million in 2020 dollars at full build-out.

Construction will require 300 workers. The project will employ 12 to 14 at full operations.

Mid-Columbia businesses are encouraged to contact Scout Energy about doing business with the project. The contractor will buy local materials and services, Landess said.

The wind farm will produce power to support up to 140,000 homes. More importantly, it will help Washington pursue a 2019 goal of carbon-neutral power by 2040.

The company is marketing the project’s power output but has not identified customers.

Horse Heaven Wind Farm is subject to review under the Washington State Environmental Policy Act and consultation with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The review includes impacts on the environment, humans and wildlife, as well as the cultural and aesthetic effects. 

Most of the project will occupy cultivated farmland. Each turbine takes about half an acre out of production.

The turbines are linked by an underground electric “collection” system as well as communications lines, two substations with operations and maintenance shops.

It expects to send power via the Bonneville Power Administration system through an interconnection agreement.

The project will generate an estimated $27 million in taxes over the its expected 25-year lifespan.

The company said that it has commitments to landowners to remove and salvage wind turbines and restore the site to pre-project status at the end of the project lifespan.

Horse Heaven Wind Farm combines two prior projects that date to 2016. Scout Clean Energy bought the assets of Wpd, a wind energy producer.

Tri-Citian Dave Kobus is the lead project manager.

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