Puget Sound Energy erects last of 149 wind turbines that power utility's 343-MW Lower Snake River Wind Project in southeast Washington

POMEROY, Washington , September 6, 2011 (press release) – Puget Sound Energy on Saturday erected the last of 149 wind turbines that will power the utility’s 343-megawatt Lower Snake River Wind Project-Phase I in southeast Washington.

The milestone came six months after PSE crews began the project’s turbine-assembly work. Crews now are focused on finishing the construction of two large substations and eight miles of high-voltage transmission lines that will send the wind facility’s electricity to a nearby Bonneville Power Administration substation. From there, the renewable energy will move onto the region’s electric grid.

The PSE wind project in western Garfield County is scheduled to be operational by next spring. The facility will be the largest of PSE’s three wind-power operations and one of the largest in the Pacific Northwest – generating enough electricity, on average, to serve 100,000 homes.

“We’re nearing the home stretch now,” said Jay Takemura, PSE environmental and communication coordinator in Garfield County. “It’s great to see another Puget Sound Energy facility built that’s created more green jobs for our state and soon will produce more green energy for our customers.”

Ironically, Takemura noted, Southeast Washington’s strong winds posed a challenge for crews erecting the Lower Snake River wind turbines. Since March, gusty winds delayed or interrupted turbine assembly on 79 separate days.

“But that’s behind us now,” Takemura said. “From this point forward, we’ll take all the strong winds we can get.”

Construction of the Lower Snake River Wind Project began in May 2010 when PSE and its lead contractor, RES Americas – together with turbine manufacturer Siemens Energy and various subcontractors – started building turbine-access roads and laying underground electric and fiber-optic cable between the 149 individual wind-turbine locations.

About 150 construction workers, on average, are on the project site, though the number exceeds 250 on any given day. About half the construction workers are from Eastern Washington, with about a quarter hailing from Washington’s southeast corner.

The wind project’s new operations and maintenance building on the outskirts of Pomeroy also is nearing completion. Approximately 25 permanent employees from PSE and Siemens Energy are expected to occupy the 15,000-square-foot building by October.

PSE’s staff will manage the production and transmission of the wind facility’s electric power, while Siemens employees will be responsible for all maintenance of the wind turbines. Some of the turbine components are manufactured at Siemens plants in Iowa and Kansas.

With the completion of its Hopkins Ridge Wind Facility in 2005 and Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility in 2006, PSE became the United States’ second largest utility producer of wind power. Phase I of the Lower Snake River Wind Project will boost the utility’s wind-power capacity by another 80 percent. All together, the three PSE wind facilities will produce enough electricity to serve about 230,000 households.

Short videos on the new wind project can be viewed on the Lower Snake River page of PSE.com or on Vimeo. Photos of Lower Snake River construction work can be viewed on PSE.com.

About Puget Sound Energy

Washington state’s oldest local energy utility, Puget Sound Energy serves more than 1 million electric customers and 750,000 natural gas customers in 11 counties. A subsidiary of Puget Energy, PSE meets the energy needs of its customers through incremental, cost-effective energy efficiency, procurement of sustainable energy resources, and far-sighted investment in the energy-delivery infrastructure. PSE employees are dedicated to providing great customer service and delivering energy that is safe, dependable and efficient. For more information, visit www.PSE.com.

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