The $1.4 billion contract to supply independent power producer Caithness Energy with wind turbines for its 845 MW wind farm projectin Oregon, USA, has gone to GE. The wind farm, to be called Shepherds Flat, has received the majority of the necessary government permits to operate and is ready to be built. When completed it will be larger than any wind farm currently in operation around the globe and amongst the latgest anywhere, planned or already built. Stretching across 30 square miles of Gilliam and Morrow Counties in north-central Oregon, near the town of Arlington, the project marks the US debut and largest single global order for GE’s 2.5xl turbines. A total of 338 will be installed in 2011 and 2012. Under three 20-year power purchase agreements, the wind farm will supply energy to Southern California Edison.

” The Shepherds Flat project will add more renewable energy to the west coast’s energy mix and help the region meet its demand for clean energy,” said Les Gelber, a partner at Caithness Energy. “The 2.5 MW wind turbine is the latest evolution of GE’s wind turbine technology and provides customers with greater efficiency, reliability and grid connection capabilities. The 2.5 MW builds upon the success of GE’s 1.5-MW wind turbine, the world’s most widely deployed wind turbine with more than 12000 installed,” said Steve Bolze, president & CEO of GE Power & Water. In addition to supplying the wind turbines, GE will provide ten years of operational and maintenance services to the project. GE Energy Financial Service, with a portfolio of more than 40 wind farms with a total capacity of over 6 GW, is investing in the project.

Caithness Energy estimates that the $2 billion project will inject $16 million annually of direct economic benefits into Oregon, and will employ 400 workers during construction and 35 during operation. Construction will be on a grand scale not only because of the large number of turbines, but because 85 miles of road and 90 miles of power connection to the grid will be built. Construction will begin in 2010 and will be completed in 2012.

The 2.5xl wind turbines will be assembled at GE’s site in Pensacola, Florida. “Our capability to build these machines here in the United States and provide local resources and expertise were key factors in winning the contract with Caithness Energy,” Bolze noted.

The development of the wind farm is made possible by California’s renewables portfolio standard, which if adopted nationally in the form of a strong renewable electricity standard would propel the growth of renewable energy throughout the country. The project will help California meet both its capacity needs and renewable energy goals. With the capacity to generate two billion kilowatt-hours per year of renewable energy, the wind farm will represent more than one-tenth of Southern California Edison’s overall renewable energy portfoli. and will avoid more than 1.5 million tons a year in greenhouse gas emissions, compared to equivalent fossil fuel generation.