Gov. C.L. ‘Butch’ Otter, R-Idaho, joined executives of GE and its partners to celebrate the start of construction of the state's largest wind power project. The governor was joined by project investors GE Energy Financial Services, Reunion Power, Exergy Development Group and Atlantic Power Corp., and he signed a turbine blade in Bliss, Idaho.
The 183 MW, 122-turbine project comprises 11 wind farms, spread across 10,000 acres of active and inactive farmland in southern Idaho's Magic Valley. GE's 1.5 MW turbines will be utilized.
The project, initiated by Exergy Development Group and slated for completion by the end of the year, is expected to create 175 construction jobs as well as permanent employment for operations and maintenance.
In addition to the people employed directly, a National Renewable Energy Laboratory model estimates that a wind project of this size would typically support the equivalent of 2,200 full-time jobs in the U.S. for one year – of which about half would be in state – and create 25 permanent jobs.
‘The renewable energy industry is breathing new life into the Idaho frontier,’ says Otter. ‘We're aggressively harnessing our abundant natural resources for growth because that helps our economy, generating not only electricity, but career opportunities right here at home.’
GE Energy Financial Services, Atlantic Power and project developer Exergy own non-managing member equity interests in the nearly $500 million Idaho Wind project. Reunion Power holds the managing member equity interest and serves as the project's manager.
The wind farms will sell all of its power to Idaho Power Co. under 20-year agreements. Once completed, the portfolio is expected to qualify for the federal Treasury Grant program designed to stimulate renewable energy projects.
Construction of the Idaho project is under way. Workers are delivering wind turbine blades, towers and other components. Workers are also installing foundations and footings for the turbine towers, building access roads, preparing interconnection lines with Idaho Power's grid and readying a site for a new power substation.