Vestas' Wings lifted by First Wind

Rolling Hills of PalouseFirst Wind will break ground on a new wind farm in the Palouse area, (WA and ID) this summer, using 58 giant wind turbines from Vestas, the World's largest wind turbine manufacturer.

The 105 MW project will project will cost $210 million according to First Wind and power 30,000 homes. It will bring 150 green construction jobs, $30 million in spending in the local economy. When operational it will bring $700,000 in tax revenue to Whitman County over 20 years.

"In addition to representing a major source of clean energy for years to come, we are also making a major investment in the economic future of the region with $30 million of direct spending planned during construction and an additional $1.5 million each year once the project achieves commercial operations." said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind.

The power generated by the wind farm will be purchased by Avista Corporation, through a 30-year purchase agreement. It's Avista's first renewable energy source, and will help the Spokane-based utility meet its renewable energy obligation as part of the State of Washington's renewable portfolio standard (RPS).

The project is expected to be online by the end of 2012. It will add to First Wind's 750 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity at 12 wind energy projects in Maine, New York, Vermont, Utah and Hawaii.

The rolling hills of the Palouse allow the windmills to be placed at the top of ridges and oriented to most effectively capture the southwesterly winds, according to Ben Fairbanks, director of business development in the Northwest for First Wind. "It's a unique location and a great wind resource," he said.

As one of the most fertile regions in the world for wheat production, the rolling hills of the Palouse exemplify the practice of sustainably managing the natural resources of the Inland Northwest. Palouse Wind will be the next advancement in collecting a new regional crop: the wind.

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