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Big new northwest project

Another large wind project in the American Northwest, announced last month by Washington Winds Inc and the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), will initially place 150 MW of wind in eastern Washington. After siting and environmental work the project could expand to as much as 400 MW by the end of next year.

The Maiden Wind Farm straddles a ridge in the Rattlesnake Hills between the Columbia and Yakima rivers in the heart of Washington's wine country, north of Prosser. It will occupy the same ridge as FPL Energy's Vansycle Ridge and Stateline projects (Windpower Monthly, February 2001), as well as Energy Northwest's Nine Mile Canyon project, all to the south-east.

Tom Osborne of BPA says the federal power marketing agency had been working with Washington Winds for several months before it released its solicitation for 1000 MW of new wind power in March. Thus the Maiden project is in addition to whatever BPA buys as a result of its solicitation.

Washington Winds, of Boise, Idaho, is a subsidiary of Pacific Winds Inc, which has 900 turbines, totalling 95 MW, at Altamont Pass in California. It has studied sites in the Northwest and found two, according Washington Wind's Rick Koebbe. In addition to the 150 MW now going ahead, he also submitted a 150 MW bid on a second site to BPA in March. That project lies south of the Maiden Wind Farm in the Horse Heaven Hills. If chosen by BPA, it will be completed in late 2002.

While the Maiden project has three transmission lines crossing the site and will need no new transmission, the Horse Heaven Hills project needs 12 miles of new line. Koebbe says he released a request for turbine bids last month, limiting the size of the turbines to between 900 kW and 1.8 MW.

Washington Winds has filed for conditional use permits in both Benton and Yakima counties for both projects and Bonneville is beginning environmental work this month.

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