Shepherds Flat Wind Farm operating

The United States’ second largest wind farm, Caithness Energy’s Shepherds Flat Wind Farm, at 845 MW, is now operating.

The wind site, in northeastern Oregon, cost an estimated $2bn and is only surpassed in size by the 1.02 GW Alta Wind Energy Center in California.

Project developers announced the site’s operation in a Sept 21 statement.

“The completion of Caithness Shepherds Flat is an excellent example of how Oregon can attract significant investments in the building blocks of the future economy, showcasing our state as a key player in new economic growth and resilience,” said Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber.

The project’s output is contracted through 20-year power purchase agreements with Edison International (NYSE: EIX) unit Southern California Edison.

The project is a recipient of a Section 1703 federal clean energy loan guarantee for 80% of $1.3bn. Investment partners include Caithness Energy, GE Financial Services, Google, Tyr Energy and Sumitomo Corp. of America.

The project marks the U.S. debut of the GE 2.5x 1 wind turbines. There are 338 of the 2.5-MW machines deployed at the site.

Developers say the energy generated by Caithness Shepherds Flat will eliminate nearly 1.5m metric tons of CO2 annually, the equivalent of taking approximately 260,000 cars off the road.

In addition to its environmental benefits, Caithness Shepherds Flat will produce an estimated 2 billion kWh each year and have an annual economic impact of $37m for Oregon. The project employed over 400 workers during its construction, and will permanently employ 45 workers.

“The opening of Caithness Shepherds Flat, one of the world’s largest wind farms, demonstrates that we can deploy renewable energy at scale with the help of private capital,” said Rick Needham, Director of Energy & Sustainability at Google. “We’re proud to have supported this project and we hope our involvement, and that of our partners, attracts more investors to this sector.”

“This pioneering new wind farm shows the viability of renewable energy as a source of power,” said Bruce Nilles, Senior Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “With investments in wind energy across the country now returning dividends in the form of new jobs, new energy, and cleaner air, projects like the Shepherds Flat wind farm show it is possible to transition from dirty fossil fuels like coal to cleaner sources of energy.”