$1.3 billion loan guarantee Eastern Oregon wind farm

http://www.eastoregonian.com/news/article_391a70f4-0a1a-11e0-8098-001cc4c03286.html?mode=print

World’s largest wind farm gets $1.3B loan guarantee

Posted: Friday, December 17, 2010 12:12 pm

The U.S. Department of Energy has finalized a $1.3 billion loan guarantee for the world’s largest wind farm in Eastern Oregon.

The financing will help support building the Shepherds Flat wind farm and will help create hundreds of jobs in Morrow and Gilliam counties. Developers also say it will avoid more than 1.2 million tons of air pollution per year.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu Thursday announced that a partial guarantee for a $1.3 billion loan has been finalized to support the wind farm. The loan will finance the Caithness Shepherds Flat project, an 845-megawatt wind generation facility sponsored by Caithness Energy and GE Energy Financial Services.

“Renewable energy investments like these are creating jobs while helping to maintain America’s global competitiveness in the clean energy economy,” Chu said.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski said the announcement tells a story about the power of collaboration.

“State policies coupled with investments from the federal government, local governments, private sector partners and landowners created the environment in which we are able to create new jobs, new clean forms of energy and new opportunities that better our state and our nation,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley called it a great holiday gift for Eastern Oregon.

“It couldn’t come at a better time,” he said. “This financing from the U.S. Department of Energy will help put people back to work and continue Oregon’s reputation as a clean energy leader.”

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden said the loan guarantee helps ensure the project will be built, creating jobs and moving the economies of Oregon and the United States closer to energy independence.

“When it is completed, Shepherds Flat will be one of the largest windmill farms in the world and will put Oregon on the map as a leader in green energy,” he said.

Company estimates show the project will employ 400 workers during construction and 35 workers during operation. The company projects the wind farm will avoid more than 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide from about 200,000 passenger vehicles.

The Caithness Shepherds Flat wind project will use 338 wind turbines designed to provide high efficiency, increased reliability and grid integration. The wind farm is the first in North America to deploy these turbines, which have been used in Europe and Asia.

Once completed, the project plans to sell the power and renewable energy credits generated to Southern California Edison under 20-year fixed price power purchase agreement.

The Caithness Shepherds Flat project is the sixth Recovery Act-supported project to close and the largest to date to receive a loan guarantee under the Financial Institution Partnership Program.

The $1.3 billion loan is funded by a group of 26 institutional investors and commercial banks led by Citi, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd., RBS Securities and WestLB Securities Inc.

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