Oregon regulators plan to okay changes for 400-MW Golden Hills Wind project

The Oregon Department of Energy, which provides the staff for the Energy Facility Siting Council (EFSC), is taking comment until Oct. 7 on a draft approval for revisions involving the site certificate for the 400-MW Golden Hills Wind Farm LLC project, to be located in northern Sherman County.

This is Request for Amendment No. 3 (RFA) to the unbuilt Golden Hills Wind Project. Golden Hills Wind Farm is a subsidiary of Orion Renewable Energy Group LLC. The proposed order recommends that EFSC approve the amendment request, subject to the conditions in the proposed order.

In 2009, EFSC issued a site certificate for construction and operation of the Golden Hills Wind Project. EFSC approved the first amendment to the site certificate in 2012 and the second amendment in 2015. This new RFA would:

  • extend the construction start and completion dates by two years. If the amendment is approved, the deadline for beginning construction would be extended from June 18, 2016, to June 18, 2018, and the deadline for completing construction would be extended from June 18, 2019, to June 18, 2021;
  • reduce the maximum number of turbines to 125, from the previously approved 267. Despite the reduced number of turbines, the project would still produce the same peak generating capacity of 400 MW;
  • change the dimensions of the turbine type, including ncrease maximum allowed turbine tower height to 312 feet (95 meters), from the previously approved 263 feet (80 meters), increase the diameter of the maximum allowed rotor-swept area to 413 feet (126 meters), from the previously approved 315 feet (96 meters), decrease the minimum allowed ground clearance to 65 feet (19.8 meters), from the previously approved 105 feet (32 meters), and increase the maximum allowed total turbine height, including rotor blades, to 518 feet (158 meters), from the previously approved 420 feet (128 meters);
  • eliminate the previously approved 11-mile, 500-kV transmission line;
  • eliminate one of the two previously approved substations, relocate the second substation to a more central location within the site boundary, and expand the substation area from 2 to 5 acres;
  • increase the height of six meteorological towers from 279 feet (85 meters) to 312 feet (95 meters);
  • expand the width of temporary access roads from 36 to 40 feet; and
  • modify the route of the previously approved 230-kV transmission line to deliver electricity from the facility’s single substation to the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) grid.

The modified design would also involve locating conductors on an existing 230 kV transmission line that currently connects another independent wind facility (Hay Canyon Wind Project) to the BPA grid. In total, the certificate holder states that it will need to construct five miles of new 230-kV transmission line to move electricity to the BPA grid.

Finally, RFA No. 3 requests to change the site boundary. The requested change would remove approximately 2,800 acres from the site boundary that is no longer necessary. Most of this land is located in the north/northwest portion of the existing site boundary, generally north of Highway 97. 

A project contact is: Golden Hills Wind Farm LLC, Reid Buckley, Vice President, Orion Renewable Energy Group LLC, 155 Grand Avenue, Suite 706, Oakland, CA 94612.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.