Wind Farms in Oregon

Wind power is one of the fastest growing forms of new electricity generation in the U.S., according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Wind energy contributed 32 percent of all new U.S. electric capacity additions in 2011, representing $14 billion in new investment, according to the Energy Department.

The latest data from Bloomberg show that Vestas extended its lead in the industry, with 10.1GW of its onshore turbines commissioned in 2018 – a global market share of 22% compared with 16% in 2017. Just four manufacturers accounted for more than half of wind turbines deployed: Denmark’s Vestas, China’s Goldwind, GE Renewable Energy and Spain’s Siemens Gamesa.

Windturbines are the cheapest way to generate electricity but they can’t deliver power on demand (when there’s no wind) like natural gas, coal and nuclear.

Portland General Electric plans to build the country’s first large-scale energy facility that combines wind turbines, solar panels and battery storage.

The Wheatridge Renewable Energy Facility will be built just north of Lexington, Oregon and will be the largest battery storage facility in Oregon.

Oregon’s renewable portfolio standard will require 50 percent of customer’s electricity to be from renewable resources by 2040. The new project will help fill the gap left when PGE’s coal fired power plant in Boardman closes at the end of 2020.

NextEra Energy is building the facility. The battery storage systems would be 20 and 30 MW, each located on up to 5 acres (pdf).

The USGS has an interactive map that shows around 47,000 wind turbines in the United States.

In October, 2012, Oregon wind farms hit a new generation record of 4,289 megawatts exceeding the output of the federal hydroelectric system — the first time that wind energy surpassed water energy in the region.

The American Wind Energy Association 2011 Annual Market Report says Oregon ranked fourth of the top 10 states for wind projects under construction in the coming year. Oregon has 640 megawatts of new wind power under construction, while 1st ranked Kansas has 1,189 megawatts under construction. The Shepherds Flat wind farm alone is expected to generate 840 megawatts.

The Tucannon River Wind Power Plant, is a 267MW onshore wind farm developed by Puget Sound Energy (PSE) for the project’s owner Portland General Electric (PGE). The project is located alongside PSE’s 343MW Lower Snake River Wind Facility Phase one in Columbia and Garfield Counties of Washington. One of the biggest wind projects owned by PGE, it produces clean renewable energy that is sufficient to serve around 84,000 homes in western Oregon with a total project cost estimated at $500m.

PacifiCorp and Portland General Electric pitched new resource plans to regulators reports the Oregonian’s Ted Sickinger in July, 2017.

PacifiCorp’s $3.5 billion proposal would build 1,100 megawatts of new wind farms in Wyoming, upgrading another 1,000 megawatts of existing windmills, and build a new transmission line. The Sierra Club maintains that 40 percent of PacifiCorp’s coal fleet is already non-economic. Bringing coal-fired or gas fired power over long distances may be more expensive and less efficient than newer approaches such as micro-grids that localize power generation.

PGE’s expansion would build or buy power from the equivalent of a 525-megawatt wind farm in the Columbia River Gorge. Both companies are trying to create a sense of urgency among regulators to act before federal production tax credits that could cover 25 percent of the wind farm costs, expire in 2020.

Wind TurbineIberdrola was ranked No. 2 among the top wind project owners in the U.S. with a 10 percent share of the market. MidAmerican Energy, the parent company of PacifiCorp, is the top utility owner of wind power with 2,909 megawatts of capacity in its portfolio. Portland General Electric was fourth, with 450 megawatts of capacity.

Two phases of the massive Shepherd’s Flat wind farm in Gilliam and Morrow counties, as well as Puget Sound Energy’s Lower Snake Wind farm in southeast Washington added an additional 923 megawatts this year to the region’s wind fleet.

The Bonneville Power Administration (Facebook page) now has about 4,700 megawatts of wind capacity connected to its transmission system, reports The Oregonian’s Ted Sickinger. BPA expects that more than 7,000 MW of wind generation could connect to its system as early as 2013.

Vestas sold its first wind turbine in North America in 1981. The company says wind power from Vestas’ more than 44,500 wind turbines reduces carbon emissions by approximately 50 million tons of CO2 every year, while building energy security and independence.

Leslie Ferron-Jones, a vice president for Vestas in Portland, gave a bleak outlook for the renewable energy industry in April, 2013, reports OPB’s Ecotrope. Her company just announced it will be laying off an additional 3,000 employees after reporting that it lost money in the third quarter this year.

Their growth had been driven by renewable portfolio standards, or RPS, in the U.S., and those standards have pretty much been met. A production tax credit that paid wind farm operators to produce wind power is set to expire at the end of 2013. Wind power developers ramped up to meet the initial demand for turbines and now have more capacity than customers.

The 2.3-cents per kilowatt-hour Production Tax Credit required projects be under development before the end of 2013 in order to qualify for the subsidy. The PTC appeared doomed, causing the pipeline of new projects to dry up. Now, at the beginning of 2014, wind companies appear to be booming again and looking good through 2015.

In 2015, Vestas will begin delivering its new V164-7.0 megawatt wind turbine, which is the first dedicated offshore turbine in Vestas’ product portfolio and it represents the largest R&D spend in its history.

Installed Wind Capacity

Vestas estimates that given the wind production and size of the North Sea, that 27,500 of these offshore turbines over a 141×141 kilometer area could generate enough power to satisfy all European households.

Major Wind Turbine Manufacturers include Vestas, which has its North American headquarters in Portland and has built more than 40,000 turbines in 65 countries. General Electric is the largest U.S.-based wind turbine manufacturer with over 13,500 wind turbine installations worldwide, and is now neck and neck with Vestas for the top supplier, while China’s Sinovel, is focused on developing low cost China-based technology and Suzlon, an India-based company, with the largest market share of wind turbines in Asia.

Reuters reports that Chinese turbine-makers Goldwind and Sinovel, are considering takeover bids for Vestas.

GE Wind Energy recently introduced the GE 2.5MW wind turbine (also called GE2.5XL). It is currently in operation on three continents; Europe, Asia, and North America. The 845MW Shepherds Flat Wind Farm in Oregon is the first windpark in the United States to utilize this model as its primary wind turbine. GE is an investor in Shepard’s Flat. In 2005,GE was building 10 turbines a week and by 2008 it was building 13 a day.

Notable projects

Large wind farms in Oregon



Capacity in Megawatt


Biglow Canyon Wind Farm Sherman County, Oregon 450 Operational
Klondike Wind Farm Sherman County, Oregon 399 Operational
Vansycle Wind Project Umatilla County, Oregon 124 Operational
Stateline Wind Project Umatilla County, Oregon 123 Operational
Shepherds Flat Wind Farm Gilliam County, Oregon and Morrow County, Oregon 845 Under construction

In 2009 General Electric was awarded a $1.48 billion contract to build the Shepherds Flat Wind Farm.[19] The 845-megawatt project will use over 300 turbines and span across Gilliam and Morrow Counties in north-central Oregon.[20] Once completed in 2012, it will be the largest wind farm in Oregon…and the United States (for a short time).

About 4 percent of PGE’s energy comes from wind farms[21] — mostly the Biglow Canyon Wind Farm[22], plus power PGE purchases on contract from the Klondike II[23] and Vansycle Ridge[24] wind farms. The Stateline Wind Farm[25] runs along the Columbia River[26].

At least 8 facilities in Oregon currently manufacture components for the wind energy industry, with annual property tax payments by wind project owners over $14 million and annual land lease payments of $7.5 million, according to the American Wind Energy Association, Oregon fact sheet.

Wind Farms:

  • The Goodnoe Hills Wind Project located in Klickitat County is 15 miles southeast of Goldendale, Washington. The 4,300 acres of rolling hills with grazing and farmland produces 94 megawatts of electricity annually. The 47 Repower, 2 MW turbines are 262.5 feet tall with rotors 303 feet in diameter, and produce a total of 94 MW. Northwest Wind Partners, a joint venture, enXco Development and Power Holdings of Goldendale, Washington developed the project for PacifiCorp.

Iberdrola Renewables[39], headquartered in Portland, Oregon, is the second largest provider[40] of wind in the country has 41 wind farms in the United States with an installed capacity of 3,877 megwatts[41], enough to power close to 1 million average U.S. households. Klondike Wind Power[42], a subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables, sells power to the Bonneville Power Administration[43]. Iberdrola’s National Control Center in Portland receives data from approximately 800,000 sensors that monitor, weather, power generation and security at Iberdrola facilities around the country.

A SCADA system, supplied by PcVue relays wind speed, wind direction, shaft rotation speed and other data on every wind turbine.

Sales of small wind turbines[44] (100 kilowatts and less) in the U.S. grew from 2,100 units in 2001 to 9,800 units in 2009 (peak has been 10,386 in 2008), according to the American Wind Energy Association[45]. Electrical power is relatively cheap in Oregon (7 cents a kilowatt hour, compared to 29 cents in Hawaii) so often Oregonians who buy small wind turbines, especially for homes, aren’t trying to save money but rather to invest in renewable energy and/or attain some energy independence.

Xzeres[46], a small-wind turbine manufacturer, is in Wilsonville. Oregon Wind’s small vertical Helyx[47] is designed and manufactured in Portland, using locally sourced recycled materials.

As of November 2010[48], the two largest wind farms are in Texas; the 781.5 MW Roscoe Wind Farm[49] is the largest in the world, followed by the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center[50] at 735.5 MW. The largest wind farm under construction is the 800 MW Alta Wind Energy Center[51] in California. The largest proposed project is the 10,000 MW Gansu Wind Farm[52] in China.

The Vestas[53] V90 is a 3.0 MW wind turbine, so over 200 would be required to produce similar power as the 550 megawatts produced at the coal-fired power plant in Boardman. But only when the wind is blowing. Wind farms like that can cost well over $1 billion – but the wind is free and it’s non-polluting.

Principle Power is planning a 30-megawatt offshore wind farm, called the WindFloat Pacific Project, that would consist of five units tethered 16 nautical miles from Coos Bay, bobbing approximately 1,400 feet above the ocean floor.

Principle Power designed the WindFloat platform, an offshore wind farm platform with Vestas supplying a 2-MW turbine to the pioneer project.

Vestas has installed more than 1,000 MW of capacity in offshore projects in Europe. Vestas has announced it will complete the largest offshore wind turbine in the world. The V164-7.0 MW will be a colossal offshore turbine for the roughest North Sea conditions — notorious for its violent winds.

Three prototype technologies are competing to provide the first commercial floating wind turbines:

Non-hydroelectric renewable generation has increased in many states over the past decade. Wind is the largest driver of this increase across all states. More than half of all states have put in place Renewable Portfolio Standards to promote generation from renewable sources.
The capacity of wind farms connected to the BPA’s transmission network has ballooned from 250 megawatts in 2005 to more than 3,500 today, and is expected to double again in the next two years, reports the Oregonian’s Ted Sickinger. That outstrips demand growth in the region. More than half the wind power generated in the Northwest is sold under long-term contact to California utilities, which are required to meet a third of their customers’ electricity needs with renewables by 2020.

BPA completed a new 79-mile 500-kilovolt transmission line through Clark and Cowlitz counties in February, 2012. It links the McNary Substation to the John Day Substation along the Columbia River. It’s one of several planned in Washington and Oregon to get power from wind turbines east of the Cascades to urban centers on the west side.

But questions are mounting about wind energy development with a new California law that requires more of that wind energy to be generated locally, instead of being imported from the Northwest.

The BPA will pull the plug on wind farms when excess generation threatens to swamp the system’s ability to handle it. BPA’s decision is almost certain to trigger litigation from wind farm operators, who won’t then generate expected financial returns. At peak hydro generation times, in the spring and fall, dumping water through the dams’ spillways raises dissolved nitrogen levels in the river, which can harm migrating fish. Wind companies say that will harm their business. A tentative compromise would have BPA pay for half the wind farm’s losses during those events.

PGE[54], the state’s largest utility, hopes to shut down the state’s only coal-fired power plant 20 years earlier[55] than planned. PGE has natural gas and coal-fired power plants in Boardman and has proposed one or two additional natural gas plants there, if it closes its Boardman coal plant to meet haze-reduction rules or avoid carbon taxes[56]. The 585-megawatt coal fired plant[57] provides enough electricity to serve about 250,000 residential customers.

A proposed $8 billion California wind energy project would build a wind farm in Wyoming and schlep the energy to Los Angeles over new and existing transmission lines. The $8 billion project would use salt caverns in Utah for a compressed air energy storage system.

The London Array is the world’s largest offshore windfarm, covering 38 square miles. The 175 Siemens wind turbines can provide 630MW, about the size of a large coal or nuclear plant, providing power to over half-a-million homes. It cost about 2 billion pounds ($4 billion).

3 Responses to Wind Farms in Oregon

  1. stella paddock says:

    just returned from a trip around Arlington Or, thru to The Dalles,Or.. what an Awesome Sight!!! So many of the beautiful towering wind turbines!! I thank God for the knowledge given to man to harness the wind power.!!

    • Yes, it’s “awesome” to see the countryside being industrialized by giant, inefficient machines. It’s impressive to see rural life being obliterated by urban energy sprawl.

    • It confounds (real) environmentalists to see structures this large portrayed as clean, green and beneficial when they’re an obvious affront to rural aesthetics. Those who only report the upsides of this growing blight are not being honest.

      Wind will always be intermittent and no other energy source hogs so much acreage for a relative pittance of power, while tarnishing the scenic attributes of an area. The least they could do is keep wind turbines off mountaintops, but they do the opposite whenever possible.

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