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The Shepherds Flat Wind Project in eastern Oregon, on track to be the world’s largest wind power installation, has reached another milestone with the announcement of a partial loan guarantee for $1.3 billion from the US Federal Government.
U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu explained that the loan will finance the Caithness Shepherds Flat project, an 845-megawatt wind generation facility located in eastern Oregon sponsored by Caithness Energy, LLC and GE Energy Financial Services.
“Renewable energy investments like these are creating jobs while helping to maintain America’s global competitiveness in the clean energy economy,” said Secretary Chu. “By leveraging our nation’s vast natural resources, we can help provide alternative sources of energy and stimulate economic growth and job creation.”
Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski noted that the agreement “tells a story about the power of collaboration.” He said, “State policies coupled with investments from the federal government, local governments, private sector partners and landowners created the environment in which we are able to create new jobs, new clean forms of energy and new opportunities that better our state and our nation.”
U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley likewise enthused, “This is a great holiday gift for Eastern Oregon and it couldn’t come at a better time. This financing from the U.S. Department of Energy will help put people back to work and continue Oregon’s reputation as a clean energy leader.”
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden noted, “This loan guarantee helps insure that this project will be built, that jobs will be created, that the Oregon economy will benefit and that the United States will be another step closer to energy independence. When it is completed, Shepherds Flat will be one of the largest windmill farms in the world and will put Oregon on the map as a leader in green energy.”
According to company estimates, the project will directly employ 400 workers during construction and 35 workers during operation. The company projects the wind farm will avoid over 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide from approximately 200,000 passenger vehicles.
The Caithness Shepherds Flat wind project will use 338 GE 2.5xl wind turbines, which are designed to provide high efficiency and increased reliability, and grid integration. The wind farm is the first in North America to deploy these turbines, already in operation in Europe and Asia. Once completed, the project will sell 100 percent of the power and renewable energy credits generated to Southern California Edison under 20-year fixed price power purchase agreements.
The Caithness Shepherds Flat project is the sixth Recovery Act-supported project to close and the largest to date to receive a loan guarantee under the Financial Institution Partnership Program (FIPP). The $1.3 billion loan is funded by a group of 26 institutional investors and commercial banks led by Citi, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd., RBS Securities, and WestLB Securities, Inc. The closing of this transaction reflects the market acceptability of the loan guarantee model under FIPP, including cooperation among multiple creditors.
The Department of Energy, through the Loan Programs Office, has issued loan guarantees or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees to support 16 clean energy projects totaling nearly $16.5 billion. Together, the 16 projects total over 37 million megawatt-hours of capacity, which will produce enough clean energy to power over 3.3 million homes. Additional DOE-supported projects include two of the world’s largest solar thermal projects and a 2,200 megawatt nuclear power plant – the nation’s first in three decades.
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