Cannon Hosts Windy Point Phase I Commissioning Ceremony
GOLDENDALE, WA – Renewable energy pioneers Cannon Power Group celebrated today the official commissioning of Phase I of its Windy Point/Windy Flats project in Klickitat County, Washington with a commemorative ceremony to thank its employees, landowners and other community supporters of the project. Over 250 people attended the event which was held at the project’s new 15,000 square ft. operations facility in Goldendale.
Cannon management and community leaders attending the event all emphasized the positive impacts the wind projects are making in Klickitat County. “We are very pleased to be part of something that has really helped turn this community around,” said Gerry Monkhouse, founder and Chairman of San Diego-based Cannon Power Group. “We are proud that this project has helped infuse jobs and tax revenue into the local economy while providing energy security and economic opportunities for the country as a whole.”
Expected to be fully completed in 2010, Windy Point/Windy Flats will be one of the largest wind projects in the U.S. – 26 contiguous miles of ridgeline along the Columbia River – covering over 90 square miles. Its anticipated capacity of over 500 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy will generate enough clean electricity for more than 250,000 households per year and will displace at least 800 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.
The project is creating more than 150 local jobs for the next two years in everything from office administrators to technicians, and hiring nearly 75 percent of the employees from the Klickitat County area. The hospitality sector is benefiting as well with the town’s three hotels at full capacity and restaurants busy from project specialists who have come from Utah, Wyoming, Florida, and Michigan.
The influx of work also means happy homecomings for several families, including Brandy Davenport Myers. Myers, a native of Goldendale and fourth-generation rancher, had left town for another job that kept her traveling across the country. The Windy Point/Windy Flats project gave her the opportunity to return to Goldendale and be with her family. Both she and her husband, Lonnie, work on the Windy Point/Windy Flats project.
“The Windy Point/Windy Flats project, along with other wind farms in the area, are helping bring this local economy back to life after the timber and aluminum industries’ rapid decline about a decade ago,” said Michael Canon, Klickitat County Economic Development Director. “Local restaurants, hotels, garages, gift shops, hardware stores, fuel supply businesses and a range of other wind farm support businesses are developing to help meet the demand of these operations.”
Klickitat County will see property tax revenues of approximately $2 million a year from Windy Point/Windy Flats that helps fund community needs such as libraries, schools, and fire protection services. The rent the project will pay local landowners will inject another $2 million a year directly into the local economy for the next 20 years, the expected life of the project.
“Cannon Power Group is standing by our long-time commitment to using as many local resources as possible when we build our projects. We believe it is very important to keep as much of the investment in the local community as we can,” said Gary Hardke, president and managing director. “As now planned, the project’s estimated total capital investment in Klickitat County is over $700 million and any eventual expansion will yield additional community revenue and support.”
California also will benefit from the Windy Point/Windy Flats project which could help the state meet its renewable energy goals since two California off-takers are expected to purchase over 330 MW from Phase I and Phase II including Turlock Irrigation District for the 136.6 MW of power from Phase I and another California entity for Phase II with additional commitments expected in the next few months.
Phase I of the three-phase project includes over twenty miles of roads, nine miles of transmission lines, over 87 miles of underground cable, two project substations and foundations and installments of 62 turbines (42 Siemens 2.3 MW turbines and 20 REpower 2.0 MW turbines). Cannon Power Construction Company is acting as construction contractor.
Construction of the infrastructure for Phase II has begun and will add another 21 miles of roads, ten miles of transmission lines, an additional two project substations, along with 88 Siemens 2.3 MW turbines. Cannon Power Group recently announced its intention to further expand Phase II by an additional 26 turbines (approximately 60 MW), which would bring Phase II to over 260 MW.
Klickitat County’s Maryhill Museum is home to 15 of the project’s wind turbines and will receive more than $100,000 in revenue each year once the turbines begin producing energy in 2009. According to the American Wind Energy Association, this is believed to be the first wind energy project in the United States to generate revenues for a nonprofit museum. Additionally, Cannon Power Group made an in-kind donation to the Maryhill Museum of $18,000 worth of concrete to improve their parking lot and side walk areas.