Palouse Wind, a wind farm permitted and being developed by First Wind, an independent U.S.-based wind energy company, will provide Avista with approximately 40 average megawatts of renewable energy, or as much as 100 megawatts of nameplate wind capacity, under a 30-year power purchase agreement with deliveries beginning in 2012. The energy qualifies under Washington State’s Energy Independence Act (RCW 19.285) to meet Avista’s Washington State-mandated renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requirements. Avista expects to recover the cost of the power purchased through retail rates.
"Recent market changes, including reductions in the cost of wind power facilities and tax incentives that remain in effect, have combined to make this an excellent time to acquire long-term output from a cost-effective wind resource, which has the added benefit of being located in our service territory," said Dick Storro, vice president of Energy Resources for Avista. "Palouse Wind will help Avista meet its goal of providing reliable energy to our customers at a reasonable cost, while meeting renewable portfolio standards, now and in the future."
Ben Fairbanks, First Wind’s Development Director, said the agreement is beneficial for the community as a whole. "Palouse Wind farm will bring more than 100 construction jobs, as well up to 10 full-time, permanent jobs to Whitman County once the project is operational. This project also represents a substantial increase in tax revenues for the county," Fairbanks said. "We’re pleased to partner with Avista to deliver clean, renewable energy to homes and businesses in the region."
Avista balances the need to secure enough energy to meet customers’ needs with the costs of new resources, while satisfying renewable portfolio standards, both in the near and long term. To comply with renewable portfolio standards detailed in Washington’s Energy Independence Act, Avista must acquire the output from eligible renewable resources, purchase qualifying renewable energy credits (RECs), or a combination of both, to meet the following annual targets: 3% of energy used to meet customer demand by Jan. 1, 2012, 9% by Jan. 1, 2016 and 15% by Jan. 1, 2020.
To meet the 2012 targets, Avista has added qualifying renewable generation capacity with upgrades at its hydroelectric projects and purchased RECs. The power purchased from Palouse Wind farm is expected to satisfy Avista’s RPS requirements for 2016.
The wind farm will be the largest renewable energy facility in Whitman County with the capacity to generate enough clean, renewable energy to power about 30,000 of Avista’s customers’ homes. Situated on private land between the town of Oakesdale and State Route 195, Palouse Wind’s orientation and elevation is ideally located to capture the prevailing southwest wind.
Palouse Wind will tie into Avista’s electric system via Avista’s Benewah/Shawnee transmission line.
"This is an important project for First Wind," Fairbanks said. "We have been working in Whitman County for over three years developing partnerships with landowners, local businesses and local government. We are thrilled to enter into a long term partnership with the region’s local utility so that the energy from the Palouse Wind project can be a source of home-grown energy."
First Wind is an independent wind energy company exclusively focused on the development, financing, construction, ownership and operation of utility-scale wind projects in the United States. Based in Boston, First Wind has wind turbines projects in the Northeast, the West and in Hawaii, with the capacity to generate up to 635 megawatts of power and projects under construction with the capacity to generate up to an additional 121 megawatts.