Idaho wind energy complex completed

The acreage hosts Idaho’s largest portfolio of wind power plant, the partners in the wind farms said Thursday. Construction was completed in just five months, resulting in the installation of 122 General Electric 1.5-megawatt wind turbines. The wind turbines are now operational, delivering energy to Idaho Power Co. and its customers, the partners said.

The farms are a partnership of GE Energy Financial Services, a unit of GE, and Boise-based Exergy Development Group, Atlantic Power Corp. and Reunion Power.

The farms are capable of generating 183 megawatts of energy, enough to power 39,700 average Idaho homes, and are positioned on 11 sites near the Oregon Trail in two topographically diverse regions in southern Idaho situated 70 miles apart.

Despite the distance between them, they are able to operate as a unified system, enabling operating efficiencies, or on a site-by-site basis, the companies said.

"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 wind power project created more than 300 construction jobs, far in excess of the originally anticipated 175 jobs. About 25 permanent jobs also were created for maintenance and other functions.

Construction, led by Fagen Inc., was completed on time 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, then to establish separate electrical interconnections into the transmission and distribution system.

GE Energy Financial Services, Atlantic Power and project developer Exergy own non-managing 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 under 20-year agreements.