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PGE, NextEra Energy Resources Power Up Renewable Energy Project in Oregon

Dec. 9, 2020
Project to be one of the first large-scale energy facilities in the United States to combine wind, solar, battery storage resources at a single location.

Portland General Electric Co. (PGE) recently announced the start of commercial power generation at the Wheatridge Renewable Energy Facility in Eastern Oregon. Wheatridge is a joint project of the PGE and a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC. This new facility marks a milestone in Oregon's acceleration to a clean energy future and will play an important role in achieving the PGE's recently established companywide goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

"Customers want and expect cleaner, greener energy sources," said Maria Pope, PGE president and CEO. "This is an exciting step toward completion of this important resource and adds to our growing wind generation portfolio. We deeply appreciate the partnerships that make the Wheatridge project possible, with NextEra and with the transmission services teams at the Bonneville Power Administration and Umatilla Electric Cooperative."

Wheatridge will be one of the first large-scale energy facilities in the United States to combine wind, solar, and battery storage resources at a single location. The 300-MW wind farm is now complete and delivering power to PGE customers. The 50-MW solar and 30-MW battery facilities will be completed by the end of 2021.

"An important community effort like Wheatridge needs teamwork, and I'm happy to have teamed up over the years with the PGE, Umatilla Electric, Morrow County, farmers like Jerry Rietmann, and all the local officials to help this exciting Eastern Oregon project get over any hurdles," U.S. Senator Ron Wyden said. "The latest good news about the wind farm part of this innovative renewable energy project will have huge benefits when it comes both to facing the climate crisis and generating good rural jobs."

With the addition of Wheatridge's wind farm, the PGE's wind generation portfolio now totals more than 1000-MW (1-GW) nameplate capacity, available from five owned or contracted wind farms in the Northwest — typically generating enough power to serve the equivalent of 340,000 homes. When complete, the solar and battery storage facilities will be among the largest in Oregon.

"Projects like Wheatridge Energy Facility provide family-wage jobs, tax revenue for our schools and services, and strengthen Morrow County's position in the region's clean energy economy," said Don Russell, Morrow County commissioner. "We're pleased to play a part in providing clean energy to Oregonians."

Project details

Located just northeast of Lexington in Morrow County, Oregon, Wheatridge's wind farm generates power using 120 wind turbines manufactured by GE Renewable Energy, Inc. The facility uses a mix of 2.3-MW and 2.5-MW machines. Final selection of the specific equipment to be used at the associated solar farm and battery storage facility is still pending.

Up to 300 jobs were created at Wheatridge during construction of the wind farm; up to 175 workers will be employed to build the solar and storage sites. Approximately 10 full-time employees will operate the combined facilities once all three components are fully commissioned for service.

"Our long-term partnership with PGE has created family-wage jobs in our community and brought clean-energy innovations like the Wheatridge Energy Facility," said Ryan Neal, general manager of the Port of Morrow. "This makes our region more attractive, competitive, and desirable for residents and business."

Ownership and construction

The project's early development work as a wind farm was performed by Swaggart Wind Power, LLC, an affiliate of MAP Energy. NextEra Energy Resources purchased the development rights and together with the PGE expanded the project scope to include solar generation and battery storage.

Power from the project will reach PGE customers in Portland and the north Willamette Valley via a new transmission line, constructed by Umatilla Electric Cooperative, that connects Wheatridge locally with the Bonneville Power Administration's regional high-voltage grid.

The PGE now owns 100 MW of the wind project. A subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources owns the balance of the project and will sell its output to the PGE under 30-year power purchase agreements. The NextEra Energy Resources' subsidiary is building and will operate the combined facility.

The PGE expects to invest approximately US$155 million for its owned portion of the project.

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