GE leads group to develop world's largest wind farm

GE Energy Financial Services, Google and subsidiaries of ITOCHU Corp. and Sumitomo Corp. will own the 845-MW Shepherds Flat wind farm in Arlington Ore. The farm will use GE's new 2.5xl wind turbine.

GE Energy Financial Services announced on April 18 that it is working with three companies, Google and subsidiaries of ITOCHU Corp. and Sumitomo Corp., and developer and managing member Caithness Energy as owners of the world’s largest wind farm, the 845-MW Shepherds Flat wind project under construction near Arlington, Ore.

Google, ITOCHU Corp. subsidiary Tyr Energy and Sumitomo Corp. subsidiary Sumitomo Corp. of America are investing approximately $500 million in the $2 billion project. Additional financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

The Shepherds Flat wind project stretches across 30 square miles of Gilliam and Morrow Counties in north-central Oregon. Once completed next year, the project will generate enough energy to supply more than 235,000 average U.S. homes, and will avoid about 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide from approximately 260,000 passenger vehicles.

Construction is proceeding in three phases. All turbine foundations have been completed and electrical work and road construction are nearing completion on the first 265-MW phase; road and turbine foundation construction is more than half complete on the second 290-MW phase; and road construction and foundation construction are continuing on the third 290-MW phase. Turbine shipments to the site are expected to begin this spring.Construction involves not only the erection of 338 turbines, but development of 95 miles of roads and 167 miles of transmission lines. Caithness Energy has estimated that the project will inject $16 million annually of direct economic benefits into Oregon, and will employ 400 workers during construction and 35 during operation.

The project will be the first wind farm in the United States to use GE Energy’s 2.5xl wind turbines, which are larger than its other models and use permanent magnet generators. The 2.5xl wind turbines for the Shepherds Flat wind farm are assembled at GE’s site in Pensacola, Fla. In addition to supplying the wind turbines, GE will provide operational and maintenance services to the project.

The Shepherds Flat wind farm will supply renewable energy to Southern California Edison.