Huge Oregon wind farm gets Google backing

We’ve been keeping a close eye on the Shepherd’s Flat wind farm in rural Oregon, not just because it is right in our backyard, but because it is poised to become the world’s largest wind farm as well.

The scale of the project is massive and, therefore, so is the scale of the financing. The U.S. Department of Energy has previously jumped on board with $1.3 billion dollars in loan guarantees to help the project along.

Now, GE Energy and Google have both made announcements stating that $500 million in investments have been made by both Google and subsidiaries of the ITOCHU Corporation and Sumitomo Corporation, which will make the corporations part owners of the landmark wind project which costs a cool $2 billion.

In Google’s statement, it was disclosed that its investment comprised about $100 million of the total amount – additional financial details were not released.

This most recent financial move bring’s Google’s total clean energy investments to over $350 million and comes close on the heels of its investments in the large Ivanpah solar facility in California as well as an overseas investment in a German solar plant.

GE stated that Tokyo-based ITOCHU Corporation owns, operates and is developing more than 15 power generation facilities across the United States through Tyr Energy and is partnered with GE Energy Financial Services on the 152-megawatt CPV Keenan II wind farm in Oklahoma. 

Sumitomo Corporation, also based in Tokyo, has wind energy assets that include the 120-megawatt Stanton, Texas wind farm jointly owned with GE Energy Financial Services, as well as two operating wind farms in Japan and one in China.

The Shepherd’s Flat wind farm stretches across 30 square miles of north-central Oregon. When completed sometime in 2012, the facility is expected to generate 845 megawatts of power, which is roughly enough for 235,000 homes. 

The project will be the first in the US to use GE’s 2.5xl wind turbines which use a permanent magnet generator that is said to improve efficiency, reliability and grid connection ability. 

When the project is finished, about 338 of the turbines will be online. All of the power from the facility is being sold to Southern California Edison through 20-year fixed price power purchase agreements.

Caleb Denison, EarthTechling