Portland General Electric Co. (PGE) and NextEra Energy Resources LLC, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Inc., have announced plans to construct an energy facility in eastern Oregon that will combine 300 MW of wind generation, 50 MW of solar generation and 30 MW of battery storage.
With the addition of these new renewable resources, PGE expects to meet about 50% of its customers’ power needs with emissions-free generation.
The new project, called the Wheatridge Renewable Energy Facility, will bring PGE’s wind generation portfolio to a nameplate total of more than 1 GW, available from five owned or contracted wind farms in the Northwest – enough power to serve the equivalent of 340,000 homes. The battery storage facility will be the largest in Oregon, the utility says.
“We’re moving aggressively to integrate smart grid technologies and renewable energy to give customers affordable, clean, low-carbon energy,” says Maria Pope, PGE’s president and CEO. “Wheatridge will be a model for integrating renewable generation and storage to cost-effectively reduce emissions while maintaining a reliable grid.”
“We’re pleased to work with Portland General Electric on the Wheatridge Renewable Energy Facility, an exciting opportunity to combine wind, solar and energy storage,” says Armando Pimentel, president and CEO of NextEra Energy Resources. “This venture will allow PGE’s customers to benefit from more renewable energy over more hours of the day and create substantial economic value for the communities that host this project, many of whom stand to benefit for years to come.”
Power from the facility will be generated by 120 wind turbines manufactured by GE Renewable Energy. The wind farm will be located just north of Lexington, Ore., in Morrow County. The specific equipment to be used at the associated solar farm and battery storage facility is still to be determined.
Wheatridge is expected to provide up to 300 jobs during construction of the wind site and up to 175 jobs during construction of the solar and storage sites. Approximately 10 full-time employees will operate the combined facilities once they are commissioned for service.
Swaggart Wind Power LLC began development and permitting of the Wheatridge wind farm in 2009. Swaggart is an affiliate of MAP Energy. The project was then acquired by a NextEra Energy Resources subsidiary in 2017. NextEra and PGE expanded the project scope to include solar generation and battery storage.
PGE will own 100 MW of the wind project. A subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources will own the balance of the project and sell its output to PGE under 30-year power purchase agreements (PPAs). NextEra Energy Resources’ subsidiary will build and operate the combined facility; the split ownership and PPA structure will allow the two energy companies to share project risks and benefits.
The wind component of the facility will be operational by December 2020 and qualify for the federal production tax credit at the 100% level. Construction of the solar and battery components is planned for 2021 and will also qualify for the federal investment tax credit. The tax credits will help reduce the cost of the project over time, thus reducing costs to PGE’s customers. PGE expects to invest approximately $160 million for its owned portion of the project.
The Wheatridge project was the prevailing bid submitted in response to a request for proposals for renewable resources PGE issued in May 2018. The agreements signed by PGE and NextEra Energy Resources’ subsidiary will be subject to prudency review on the customers’ behalf by the Oregon Public Utility Commission. The agreements are also subject to approval by NextEra Energy management.
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has supported the project from its inception, the partners note.
“Portland General Electric’s decision to join with NextEra Energy Resources in constructing the Wheatridge Renewable Energy Facility provides both a well-earned economic boost to eastern Oregon and an important step on our country’s needed path to green energy,” says Wyden.