Wednesday, November 16, 2011

First Wind signs contract for Palouse turbines

Posted By on Wed, Nov 16, 2011 at 10:24 AM

The company building an expansive wind farm on the Palouse announced Tuesday it will buy the 58 turbines for the project from Vestas, the world’s largest turbine manufacturer.

Vestas, a Danish company, has its North American headquarters in Portland.

“They have a proven technology in the northwest,” says Ben Fairbanks, regional director of business development for the Palouse Wind Project. “They have more turbines in Washington than any other company.”

Vestas has worked with wind projects in Walla Walla, Columbia and Kittitas counties. The Palouse project is expected to be complete by next fall and Avista agreed this summer to buy the electricity generated by the project to power about 30,000 homes.

It’s the first time First Wind has purchased from Vestas, and Fairbanks would not comment on how much the turbines will cost the company. The V100-1.8 megawatt turbines have 100-meter-wide rotors, which “enables maximum output at low wind speeds,” according to the company’s website.

“We’re happy with these and the amount of energy they’ll produce,” Fairbanks says. “They’re highly efficient.”

Parts for the turbines come from around the world, but they will be assembled in Vestas’ Denver facility and then transported by rail or truck to the Palouse, he says. Along with the turbines, Vestas will provide 10 years of operation and maintenance, which Fairbanks calls typical industry practice. After those 10 years, Palouse Wind employees will be familiar enough with the turbines to take over those roles, Fairbanks says.

Road construction and other site preparations have already started on the Palouse project and are expected to continue into December if the weather allows, Fairbanks says. The turbines will arrive around June and be installed in July, he says. First Wind’s order from Vestas also purchased 34 turbines for a project the company is building in Maine.

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Heidi Groover

Heidi Groover is a staff writer at the Inlander, where she covers city government and drug policy. On the job, she's spent time with prostitutes, "street kids," marriage equality advocates and the family of a 16-year-old organ donor...