“One step at a time”
This is a mantra that has been used in countless situations – trying to express the scale of a great challenge that may lie ahead, but emphasizing that hope will prevail if we make the right decisions right now, and we don’t lose our constitution. Building a clean energy economy is one of those great challenges, maybe the greatest, that’s facing our nation today. And on Friday, we took a giant leap forward as Secretary Chu announced a conditional commitment to provide a partial guarantee for a $1.3 billion loan in support of the world’s largest wind farm to date.
The Caithness Shepherds Flat wind project, constructed on private property in eastern Oregon, will deploy a total of 338 wind turbines supplied by General Electric (GE). Projected to employ over 400 people in construction phase and provide 845 megawatt wind-powered electrical generation, the Caithness Shepherds Flat wind project will produce enough wind energy to supply 235,000 homes and set a high bar for future wind energy projects. By doing this, we will directly avoid 1,215,991 tons of carbon dioxide per year – roughly equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 212,141 passenger vehicles. 100% of the wind power generated through these turbines at the Caithness Shepherds Flat project will be sold to Southern California Edison via fixed price power purchase agreements lasting 20 years.
How is this possible? Wind energy is a form of solar energy, taking the power of wind to turn blades, setting off a chain of events that connect to a generator and creates electricity. (To learn more about how wind turbines work, check out this wind turbine animation). The Department of Energy, through game changing investments like this one, has increased the technical viability of wind systems and helped to introduce bring more wind power to the marketplace.
In addition to being the largest wind farm in the world, the Shepherds Flat project is also the largest project to date to receive an offer of a conditional commitment for a loan guarantee under the Financial Institution Partnership Program (FIPP), a Department of Energy program supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Caithness Shepherd’s Flat wind project is just one of the clean energy projects supported by loan guarantees through the Department’s Loan Programs Office. For more information on these projects, please visit www.lgprogram.energy.gov.