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Pacific Northwest plans 250 MW wind project for site east of Seattle

The Pacific Northwest is continuing to feed its voracious appetite for renewable energy with a new project in Washington. Zilkha Energy of Houston, Texas, is in the permitting stage for a 250 MW wind plant about 90 miles east of Seattle, making it the largest Northwest project near a major population centre. The developer filed for a conditional use permit with Kittitas County in May and says it will produce energy by the end of next year, just under the wire for federal tax credits. Zilkha's Andrew Young says the company is negotiating with a couple of utilities to buy power generated by the Kittitas Valley project and is confident the agreements will fall into place soon. The site has excellent wind and access to transmission lines that could carry the power into Puget Sound, he says. Although Young would not say which utilities he is "aggressively pursuing," Puget Sound Energy, the largest investor-owned utility in Washington, owns one of the transmission lines near the project. The utility has yet to buy wind generation for its customers. Also in the running would be the Bonneville Power Administration, which also owns a nearby transmission line and which could buy energy for its public utility customers in Puget Sound. Young says the area is well known for its wind. FloWind Corp, which filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection in 1997, installed one of its experimental vertical axis turbines nearly 15 years ago, which is still standing on the site but not operating. Kittitas County also is well prepared for wind development, having passed a land use ordinance two years ago that makes it easy for wind developers to site in the county. Zilkha has not chosen a turbine model, but project literature places the size at about 1.5 MW, saying the company plans to install 100 to 150 turbines over the 4047 hectare site. Construction should begin in spring 2003.

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