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Tribal confederation sees good returns in wind power investment

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation are investing in wind power because it will give them a good return on their money. After comparing investment in the Mar-Lu Wind Farm, to be located in northern Oregon near the Columbia River Gorge, with other investments the tribe would typically make, it determined it would receive a higher return on investing in the wind project. While the tribe will not say how much it is investing, it says the money will come from an Oregon Department of Energy development loan and give it part ownership in the project being developed by Columbia Energy Partners LLC. The project also received a $500,000 grant from the US Department of Agriculture in September 2004. Columbia Energy Partners of La Center, Washington, is developing up to five projects in Oregon and Washington, including the Mar-Lu project in two phases, beginning with 5 MW that will contribute solely to the energy used by the town of Arlington. The tribe is investing in a 104 MW expansion of that project. In addition to the investment opportunity, the tribe wants the region to develop more renewable energy in order to reduce the Northwest's reliance on hydropower, which damages the habitat of Columbia River salmon, says company spokesman Don Sampson.

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