Oregon officials hail opening of America’s second-largest wind farm complex

Written By: Thatcher Michelsen September 24, 2012 0
Oregon's new wind farm produces enough power to provide light to nearly 300,000 homes.
Oregon's new wind farm produces enough power to provide light to nearly 300,000 homes.

On September 22, leaders from Oregon's political and energy establishments gathered to commemorate the official opening of the Shepherds Flat Wind Farm. The facility was partially funded by power giants like Caithness Energy and General Electric and subsidized by a U.S. Department of Energy renewable energy loan, making it a poster child for public-private electricity partnerships.

Currently, the plant is capable of producing 845 Megawatts (MW) of energy, which is enough power to light 235,000 local homes at a time. This output is expected to reduce Oregon's carbon footprint by 1.483 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. This amount of energy will add up to nearly 2 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) per year, officials said at the unveiling.

State leaders, such as Governor John Kitzhaber and Senator Jeff Merkley, praised the opening as a milestone for Oregon's commitment to providing its citizens with clean power and new jobs, the latter of which will constitute up to 45 positions to run and maintain the wind farm. Roughly 400 workers were hired to aid in the initial construction phase.

"It's great news that the Shepherds Flat project is now complete," Senator Merkley said, according to a press release. "Oregon is now host to one of the largest on-shore wind farms in the world, further establishing its role as a leader in the new clean energy economy. We can now look forward to 845 megawatts of new clean energy coming on the grid."

The project attracted bipartisan support in the state, including the endorsement of Republican Representative Greg Walden, who called the plant "part of an 'all of the above' energy strategy that this country so desperately needs."

Now that Shepherds Flats is fully operational, Oregon residents will benefit from an electrical grid that provides clean and homegrown electricity.

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