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Symbolic ground breaking

A ground breaking ceremony later this month will mark the start of construction of the first large wind project involving electric utilities from the Pacific Northwest. The 41.4 MW Wyoming Wind Project, of 69, 600 kW Mitsubishi turbines, is on a fast track to ensure full commercial operation by mid 1999.

A crucial and symbolic decision for the $60 million wind plant came when Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), a government power purchasing agency, made a long awaited announcement on July 24 that it would buy 37% of the output of the project -- to be developed by SeaWest Energy Corporation and Tomen Power Corporation at Foote Creek Rim near Arlington. Tomen Corp, parent of Tomen Power Corp, announced details of its involvement in the project in Tokyo last month.

"Projects like this are pushing wind energy into the mainstream of electricity generation in the United States while contributing to a cleaner environment in the Rockies and Pacific Northwest," says US Energy Secretary Federico Peña. BPA's decision will help it fulfil obligations to provide "environmentally friendly" electricity, such as seven average MW of green power annually to Salem Electricity.

Green marketing also seems to be part of the project's appeal for PacifiCorp of Portland, Oregon, and the other involved utility, Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB), also in Oregon. They will purchase 47% and 16% of the output, respectively, under a turnkey arrangement with the wind plant developers. EWEB now says it is likely to market the power as part of a green package, a tactic that PacifiCorp is also suggesting.

Tomen Corp, parent of Tomen Power Corp, announced details of its involvement in the project in Tokyo last month. The project, said the Kyodo news service, will be the largest in the western state of Wyoming.

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