Construction of enXco’s 95-turbine Desert Claim wind farm north of Ellensburg likely will not take place this year.
Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council Compliance Manager Stephen Posner said international renewable energy firm enXco has not yet filed the six-month notice required by the state before the company can begin construction at the Desert Claim site.
Posner said, at this point, enXco could conduct minor site preparation in the late fall, but it appears unlikely that the project will get off the ground this year. In addition to providing notice, enXco still needs to submit a number of plans for EFSEC approval before construction can proceed.
Desert Claim Project Director David Steeb confirmed Thursday that construction on the site is not likely to begin this summer.
Steeb said project officials will make an announcement once they have identified a firm date for construction to begin.
Developers are pursuing several paths for selling power generated by Desert Claim, Steeb said, and enXco remains committed as one of the members of the Central Washington Resource Energy Collaborative. The collaborative includes enXco, Puget Sound Energy, the Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce and Kittitas County. Central Washington University’s research foundation is an advisory member.
Originally set to start in 2010
The Desert Claim wind farm was recommended for approval by the EFSEC in 2010, and Gov. Chris Gregoire gave the project final approval in February of that year. Initial announcements from enXco indicated construction was to start in summer 2010.
In July 2010, enXco announced it was delaying site construction until late spring 2011 to allow more time to refine engineering and construction plans for the project. At that time, project officials said detailed planning work was taking longer than expected and minor changes in the project were being incorporated to better meet local and state requirements. The project was again delayed in 2011.
Steeb said this week that Desert Claim remains the same project that EFSEC permitted in 2010.
The state approved plans for 95 towers, each with a tip height of 410 feet. The towers would spread over 5,200 acres north of Smithson Road and about eight miles northwest of Ellensburg. The facility will cost approximately $330 million, and have a peak generating capacity of 190 megawatts.
Once operations begin, there will be 14 full-time employees at the Desert Claim project, according to a study commissioned by enXco. It’s projected to generate 282 new jobs statewide and $33 million in total economic activity during construction.
After construction, the project will create an estimated 36 jobs and $6.2 million annually in statewide economic activity.
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