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Powered By GE Turbines, Largest Wind Power Portfolio in Idaho Completed

published: 2011-02-10 14:30

Over 10,000 acres of rural land will now also host Idaho’s largest portfolio of wind farms through a partnership of GE Energy Financial Services—a unit of GE (NYSE: GE)—Exergy Development Group, Atlantic Power Corporation and Reunion Power. Announced at the Infocast Wind Power Finance & Investment Summit in San Diego, construction was completed in just five months, resulting in the installation of 122 of GE’s 1.5 megawatt turbines. The wind farms are now operational and delivering clean energy to Idaho Power Company and its customers, while also bringing jobs to the region.

The wind farms are capable of generating 183 megawatts of energy—enough to power 39,700 average Idaho homes—and are positioned on 11 sites in two topographically diverse regions in southern Idaho (eight wind farms in Hagerman and three wind farms in Burley) situated 70 miles apart. Despite the distance between the wind farms, they are able to operate as a unified system, enabling operating efficiencies, or on a site-by-site basis.

“Today marks a significant milestone for residents of Idaho who can now power their homes with cleaner, independently sourced energy,” said Kevin Walsh, Managing Director and Leader of Power and Renewable Energy at GE Energy Financial Services. “In addition to increasing our nation’s energy independence, these wind farms provide enormous environmental benefits, including a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to the removal of 57,000 cars from the roads. We also were able to bring temporary and permanent jobs to a region that has been dramatically impacted by the economic slowdown.”

The project created over 300 construction jobs, far in excess of the originally anticipated 175 jobs. Approximately 25 permanent jobs also were created for maintenance and other critical functions. In addition to those employed directly, using a National Renewable Energy Laboratory model, a wind project of this size would typically support the equivalent of 2,200 full-time jobs in the United States for one year.

"After five years of intense planning, followed by five months of construction, we achieved our goal of creating Idaho’s largest wind farm portfolio,” said James Carkulis, President and CEO of Exergy. “We are now able to transition into ongoing operations, providing the customers of Idaho Power Company with a more environmentally friendly energy solution.”

Construction, led by Fagen, Inc., was completed on schedule despite a tight schedule and occasionally extreme weather at the project site. Adding to the complexities was the need for all 11 project sites to strike individual agreements with Idaho Power Company, then to establish separate electrical interconnections into the transmission and distribution system.

GE Energy Financial Services, Atlantic Power, and project developer Exergy own nonmanaging member equity interests in the nearly $500 million Idaho Wind Partners project. Reunion Power holds the managing member equity interest and serves as the project’s manager. The wind farms are selling all of their power to Idaho Power Company under 20-year agreements.

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