BICKLETON - Progress is blowing in the wind for the Big Horn Wind Project, which began construction on Friday, Oct. 28.
Current construction includes developing roads and infrastructure for the 15,000-acre windfarm three miles south of Bickleton.
As the Daily Sun News first reported on Sept. 15, Big Horn is being developed by Portland-based PPM Energy and, upon completion, will be able to provide electricity for up to 60,000 homes.
A total of 133 wind turbines are on the site to provide 200 megawatts (MW) of electricity. Big Horn is expected to be commercially operational in summer 2006.
PPM is in advanced discussions to sell the output of the Big Horn project to a major load serving entity. Company officials say customer demand for wind power is surging as utilities and municipalities add clean renewable power to their supplies.
"PPM owns seven wind projects, with Big Horn being the largest wind project we have developed to date," said Terry Hudgens, PPM Energy's CEO. "We are pleased with the enthusiasm of Klickitat County and the surrounding community for this project with many local benefits."
Only about 70 acres of Big Horn's 15,000 acres will be used for the wind turbine project. The rest of the land will be used for wheat farming and grazing. Big Horn Project Manager Eric Lallum said the extra acreage will also include land set aside for bird habitat.
Approximately 22 miles of newly constructed access roads and nearly seven miles of county roads will be temporarily widened and improved during construction.
PPM officials say the project will support the local economy through royalty payments to about five landowners and property tax payments to Klickitat County.
Up to 200 jobs will be created during the peak of construction and approximately six to eight full time employees during operation.
"Our county recognizes the economic benefits wind power projects bring to our ranchers and we have strongly encouraged wind power development through our energy overlay zone," said County Commissioner Don Struck.
The Big Horn project is located in an area known for its wind resource and near existing Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) transmission lines.