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Major plans for Northwest

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SeaWest Windpower Inc has unveiled plans to build 300-500 MW of wind projects in the Pacific Northwest, starting with a 24.6 MW plant near the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon -- an area that has prompted protests over wind development from environmentalists and Native Americans over the last four years.

The project is proposed for an area 30 miles (48 kilometres) south of the Columbia River Gorge on a high plateau of farmed and fallow wheat land near Condon. Steve Steinhour of SeaWest says the company is studying a couple of thousand acres for a site that will have the least environmental impact. Plans for a 25 MW project proposed by a local group for the Washington side of the Columbia River were dropped in 1998 due to concerns for raptors (Windpower Monthly, December 1998), but Steinhour says initial studies show few bird species at the Condon site and those which do live in the area are relatively common. SeaWest should have the site pinned down by October, he adds, and then will begin the county permitting process.

The turbines are scheduled to turn by the end of 2001. Talks are under way with the Bonneville Power Administration, a federal utility and power distributor, on a 20 year power purchase agreement. SeaWest believes it is well positioned to do a number of projects in Oregon and Washington, according to the company's Dave Roberts, with options to lease land on as many as five sites for 300-500 MW of wind turbines.

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