Wind Farms in Oregon

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Sampling of wind-related companies in Portland Metro area.

Wind power is one of the fastest growing forms of new electricity generation in the U.S., according to the American Wind Energy Association. In recent years, around 40% of all new generation capacity added to the electric grid in the U.S. was from wind power projects. A May 2008 Department of Energy study says wind power can provide 20% of the nation's electricity by 2030.

PGE[1], the state's largest utility, hopes to shut down the state's only coal-fired power plant 20 years earlier[2] than planned. PGE has natural gas and coal-fired power plants in Boardman and has proposed one or two additional natural gas plants there, if it closes its Boardman coal plant to meet haze-reduction rules or avoid carbon taxes[3]. The 585-megawatt coal fired plant[4] provides enough electricity to serve about 250,000 residential customers. The Vestas[5] V90 is a 3.0 MW wind turbine, so over 200 would be required to produce similar power. But only when the wind is blowing.

About 4 percent of PGE's energy comes from wind farms[6] — mostly the Biglow Canyon Wind Farm[7], plus power PGE purchases on contract from the Klondike II[8] and Vansycle Ridge[9] wind farms. The Stateline Wind Farm[10] runs along the Columbia River[11].

Wind turbines near MaryHill, photo by Sam Churchill
Windfarms along the Columbia River

Iberdrola Renewables[25], headquartered in Portland, Oregon, is the second largest provider[26] of wind in the country has 41 wind farms in the United States with an installed capacity of 3,877 megwatts[27], enough to power close to 1 million average U.S. households. Klondike Wind Power[28], a subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables, sells power to the Bonneville Power Administration[29]. Iberdrola's National Control Center in Portland receives data from approximately 800,000 sensors that monitor, weather, power generation and security at Iberdrola facilities around the country.

A SCADA system, supplied by PcVue relays wind speed, wind direction, shaft rotation speed and other data on every wind turbine.

Sales of small wind turbines[30] (100 kilowatts and less) in the U.S. grew from 2,100 units in 2001 to 9,800 units in 2009 (peak has been 10,386 in 2008), according to the American Wind Energy Association[31]. Electrical power is relatively cheap in Oregon (7 cents a kilowatt hour, compared to 29 cents in Hawaii) so often Oregonians who buy small wind turbines, especially for homes, aren't trying to save money but rather to invest in renewable energy and/or attain some energy independence.

Xzeres[32], a small-wind turbine manufacturer, is in Wilsonville. Oregon Wind's small vertical Helyx[33] is designed and manufactured in Portland, using locally sourced recycled materials.

As of November 2010[34], the two largest wind farms are in Texas; the 781.5 MW Roscoe Wind Farm[35] is the largest in the world, followed by the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center[36] at 735.5 MW. The largest wind farm under construction is the 800 MW Alta Wind Energy Center[37] in California. The largest proposed project is the 10,000 MW Gansu Wind Farm[38] in China.

  1. PGE
  2. hopes to shut down the state's only coal-fired power plant 20 years earlier
  3. carbon taxes
  4. The 585-megawatt coal fired plant
  5. Vestas
  6. About 4 percent of PGE's energy comes from wind farms
  7. Biglow Canyon Wind Farm
  8. Klondike II
  9. Vansycle Ridge
  10. Stateline Wind Farm
  11. along the Columbia River
  12. Biglow Canyon Wind Farm
  13. Vestas wind turbines
  14. The wind farm is located in Wasco County
  15. [ The $1 billion project was completed in September, 2010
  16. Vestas
  17. Here's a video tour
  18. at Biglow
  19. Sam Churchill's Flickr photo collection
  20. Shepherds Flat Wind Farm
  21. Caithness Energy
  22. Southern California Edison
  23. The U.S. Department of Energy finalized a $1.3 billion loan guarantee for the Shepherds Flat wind farm
  24. Eastern Oregon wind farms, especially the Summit Ridge wind farm in Wasco County, have now been thrown into doubt
  25. Iberdrola Renewables
  26. the second largest provider
  27. an installed capacity of 3,877 megwatts
  28. Klondike Wind Power
  29. Bonneville Power Administration
  30. Sales of small wind turbines
  31. American Wind Energy Association
  32. Xzeres
  33. Oregon Wind's small vertical Helyx
  34. As of November 2010
  35. Roscoe Wind Farm
  36. Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center
  37. Alta Wind Energy Center
  38. Gansu Wind Farm