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Expanded community wind in Oregon's Umatilla County

Oregon's Umatilla County will soon be seeing 67.5 MW of community-owned wind power online with the two-phase Echo project being developed by John Deere Wind and Oregon Windfarms. Echo's first phase, at 44.5 MW, is using 1.65 MW Vestas turbines and was expected online before the end of 2008. The second phase, at 20 MW, is to consist of Repower 2 MW turbines for connection by the end of the year. PacifiCorp, an Oregon power marketer, is buying the power. Landowner participation in the Echo project has been extensive from the start, says Oregon Windfarm's Glenn Ikemoto. "The landowners were interested in co-developing their own projects," he adds. Landowners can access US Department of Agriculture grants for wind investments and Oregon's business energy tax credit, which allows for 50% in tax write-offs on qualifying projects. Ikemoto would like to see more community wind in Oregon, but admits the overall process is daunting. "It's very, very difficult," he says. "There aren't that many finance entities that will do it and the economics are challenging." The project is built in two phases because one of the PacifiCorp transmission lines needs to be rebuilt. "That can't happen until 2009, so a portion of the project was pushed back," says Ikemoto. Meanwhile, Ikemoto's California-based firm was bringing two 20 MW Suzlon projects online in Idaho under the name of Idaho Windfarms late last year. "One of them is the Bennett Creek wind farm and the other one is Hot Springs," he says, adding that neither involves community ownership.

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