Blades for wind farm arrive in Pasco

PASCO — A wind turbine farm planned for Garfield County is starting to take shape at the Big Pasco Industrial Center.

By Thursday, trains had delivered 132 turbine blades destined for the Lower Snake River Wind Project, said Billy Brenton, director of business development for Energy Transportation.

The Casper, Wyo.-based company has a contract to deliver another 315 blades, 149 nacelles that will hold the generators and 149 hubs that attach to the front of the nacelles, Brenton said.

"There will roughly be a train in there every week," he said.

The components, all made by Siemens Energy, eventually will become 149 wind turbines able to generate 343 megawatts of electricity, or enough to serve 100,000 homes, according to Seattle-based Puget Sound Energy.

The utility is developing the wind turbine farm near Pomeroy, said PSE spokesman Roger Thompson.

Thompson said the power company expects tower assembly to start in early to mid-March. PSE officials expect the wind farm to be up and running in spring 2012.

The main contractor is Renewable Energy Systems Americas. Preliminary work on roads and concrete foundations for the towers began last spring, Thompson said.

On an average day, about 150 workers will be on site during construction. Once that's complete, PSE officials estimate about 25 people will be hired to maintain and operate the wind turbines.

Benton and Franklin county residents will continue to see signs of the work through mid-August, Brenton said.

Starting March 17, about 10 trucks a day will be hauling two complete sets of turbine components from Pasco to Pomeroy.

Towers for the project are being shipped to the Port of Vancouver, and then will be trucked to the construction site, Thompson said.

This is the first phase of the Lower Snake River Wind Project, he said. Puget Sound Energy has received development permits from Garfield and Columbia counties to build enough towers to generate 1,400 megawatts, including the 343 megawatts the phase 1 towers will produce.

When the additional phases will be built depends on several factors, including energy demand of PSE customers, as well as regulatory and financial considerations, Thompson said.

PSE also owns the Hopkins Ridge Wind Facility near Dayton in Columbia County and the Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility in Kittitas County.