Uplifting words with political vision

A ground breaking ceremony for the start of the long awaited 41.4 MW wind plant at Foote Creek Rim in Wyoming drew some 200 people to Arlington on September 26, including state Governor Jim Geringer. "I am very supportive and excited with the prospects of the Wyoming Wind Energy Project," Geringer said on the day. "We can't stop the wind, but we can make it work for us. And with the technology that is available today, we are looking at a complementary energy source that is not only clean but virtually unlimited."

The guests were also joined by representatives from PacifiCorp, which owns 80% of the project, and from Eugene Water & Electric Board, which owns the remainder. Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) will buy 15 MW of the output from the project, which will be the largest in the western US outside California when completed late next year or in early 1999.

SeaWest Energy of California and Japanese Tomen Power Corp are developing the plant, expected to cost $60 million including transmission lines and sub-station facilities. About 130 construction workers will be employed during construction of the project, to feature 69 Mitsubishi 600 kW turbines near Interstate 80 between Rawlins and Laramie in Wyoming.

"This project helps push wind energy into the United States energy mainstream, while contributing to a cleaner environment in the Rockies and the Pacific Northwest," said US Energy Secretary Federico Peña of the project. "These efforts will contribute to the nation's ability to meet global climate change while enhancing our quality of life." Peña had been expected to attend but did not. AWEA's newsletter, Wind Energy Weekly, erroneously reported he was there.

On the morning of the ceremony, the leading newspaper in Oregon -- PacifiCorp's home state -- welcomed the project. The owners "deserve special plaudits for keeping wind power alive, and for encouraging BPA to continue its commitment after the initial developer, Kenetech, declared bankruptcy," said the Oregonian. The newspaper noted that although wind is far cheaper than solar, it is more expensive than electricity currently available in the Pacific Northwest. "So the investment in it is clearly taking the long view [and is] participating in a useful experiment to advance the science of wind power in a most environmentally responsible way," it concluded.