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California company plans wind farm in Oregon

A California company has notified Oregon officials it plans a wind farm covering 32,000 acres with 300 turbines.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A California company has notified Oregon officials it plans a wind farm covering 32,000 acres with 300 turbines.

The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm would be the largest in the Columbia River Gorge. It would generate 750 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 188,000 homes.

The developer, LifeLine Development Group of Sacramento, is a newcomer to the wind-energy boom in the gorge and hasn't developed any wind farms.

It was formed expressly for Shepherds Flat, said Patricia Pilz, LifeLine's development vice president. She declined to identify corporate principals, except to say most were from California with strong backgrounds in wind energy.

LifeLine told the Oregon Department of Energy last week of its plans. A detailed application is due in September. A review by the state agency is required when wind projects exceed 105 megawatts.

"This is the largest one we've seen," said Diana Enright of the department.

LifeLine would be built in phases of 250 megawatts each, Pilz said. The turbines, each with a 2.5-megawatt capacity, would hook into transmission lines leading to a Bonneville Power Administration interconnection that would take the power to population centers to the west.

The first phase of the project wouldn't be completed until 2008, when BPA expects to improve a substation to accommodate the new power generation.

The site is near the Columbia River town Arlington in Gilliam and Morrow counties.

Clint Krebs owns most of the land, where he runs sheep and cattle. He's been advocating such a project for years.

"It's too windy, and the soil's too poor for farming," he said.

Other projects in the area, planned or under construction, are:

-- A 450-megawatt farm that Oregon's largest utility, Portland General Electric, hopes to build in Sherman County. Last week, the state Energy Department approved a site certificate, clearing the way for development.

-- A planned third phase of the Klondike wind farm in Sherman County, which would bring the capacity to 370 megawatts. The company, Portland-based PPM Energy, is one of the country's largest wind-power developers. PPM is owned by ScottishPower, based in Glasgow, Scotland.

-- PPM's 200-megawatt wind farm called Big Horn, in Washington's Klickitat County.

-- PPM's 100-megawatt Leaning Juniper wind farm near Arlington.

-- The Stateline wind farm developed by Florida energy company FPL Group. It straddles Oregon and Washington in the eastern end of the gorge and has a 300-megawatt capacity. Plans call for 200 megawatts more.