Port of Vancouver wins contract for Washington’s newest wind farm

Port of Vancouver, USA has been selected as port of entry for this year’s largest, wind-powered electric generation facility, scheduled for construction in Washington State. With the upcoming Wild Horse project, Port of Vancouver will have been involved in moving wind turbine components for all six wind farms in the state of Washington.

Over the next six months, Vancouver will once again see over 1,000 sections of gigantic towers, propeller-like blades, and nacelles making their way through downtown Vancouver en route to Washington’s newest wind farm under construction near Ellensburg, Wash.

This is the fourth wind energy project the port has partnered with Vestas American Wind Technology Inc. based in Portland, Oregon. It is a subsidiary of Vestas Wind Systems A/S of Denmark, the world’s leading wind turbine manufacturer. Previous Vestas projects handled through the Port of Vancouver include Hopkins Ridge, and Stateline I & II - still the largest wind farm in the world.

The 127-unit Wild Horse Wind Farm is Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE) second wind-power electric generation facility in Washington State. Last year at the Vancouver port, PSE’s 83-unit wind project at Hopkins Ridge generated over 13,000 labor hours dockside, and substantial business for trucking firms in the form of 650 trips to the wind farm site 282 miles away in Dayton, Wash.

Labor figures can be expected to increase significantly for this year’s project, with 100% of the colossal components for the larger project crossing the Vancouver docks before traveling 227 miles to their final destination.

‘This type of project cargo generates significant labor hours for longshore workers at the Port and also for workers transporting the wind turbines to their final destination,’ said Alastair Smith, Port senior director of marketing and operations. ‘This is a sizeable contribution to the local economy in the form of jobs and business revenue.’

‘The port’s recent purchase of a 140-metric-ton heavy lift crane also shows a serious commitment toward the wind energy business,’ Smith said. ‘This crane brings a whole new dimension for cargo handling in the Columbia River, positioning Vancouver as a premier project cargo port.’

Each wind turbine includes three tower sections, three 129-foot-long blades, a 21-ton hub, and a 69-ton nacelle, a generator in a fiberglass casing. The port expects the first wind turbine components to arrive at the Vancouver docks in late May. Tower sections will be coming from manufacturers in Vietnam. The hubs, nacelles, and blades are being shipped from Vestas factories in Denmark.

The Vestas wind turbines are capable of producing 1.8 megawatts of power, each, or a total of 229 MW when all 127 are generating at full capacity ’ enough to power 70,000 homes.

‘Wild Horse will be an excellent addition to our power-supply portfolio,’ said Stephen P. Reynolds, PSE chairman, president and CEO. ‘This project, along with Hopkins Ridge, is a valuable resource addition for our customers, particularly as oil and natural gas prices are at all time highs.’

Washington’s largest utility company, with over one million customers, PSE has set a goal to have at least 5% of its customers’ total electricity supplied through renewable energy resources by 2013. The Wild Horse facility is scheduled to be in operation by December 2006. It will bring the total megawatts of electricity generated by windpower in the state to 662 MW, more than 50% provided by the PSE facilities.

Increasing costs for petroleum fuels, combined with the recent extension of the wind energy Protection Tax Credit through 2007, has increased the profitability of wind energy development. The tax credit, which was scheduled to expire at the end of 2005, provides a 1.9 cent/kilowatt h