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PGE to acquire new gas plant, wind farm and transmission capacity

Portland General Electric Co. announced decisions Monday on more than $1 billion in new resources, including a saying it plans to develop a new natural gas fired power plant in Boardman and a new wind farm in Southeast Washington. The company also said it would acquire up to 1,500 megawatts of transmission capacity from Bonneville Power Administration, and abandon plans to build its own cross-Cascades transmission line from Boardman to near Salem.

The gas plant is to be the behemoth, with a single Mitsubishi turbine capable of generating 440 megawatts, enough power to serve about 300,000 customers. It will be built adjacent to PGE’s existing coal-fired plant in Boardman by Abnegoa S.A., an international energy developer and contractor. PGE will own and operate the plant, which is scheduled to start operation in 2016. PGE says the project will create up to 500 jobs during construction and about 20 full-time positions when operating. The utility issued a request for proposals on the new baseload plant last year. It said it received 18 bids representing eight distinct generating projects.

To fulfill 2015 targets under state renewable energy mandates, PGE said it had also agreed to buy development rights from Puget Sound Energy for Phase Two of the Lower Snake River wind farm near Dayton Wash., north of Walla Walla. The project comprises 116 Siemens wind turbines, each with a nameplate generating capacity of 2.3 megawatts, for a total nameplate capacity of 267 megawatts. It will be built by renewable power developer RES Americas Construction Inc.

PGE said the project would be completed in time to meet renewable energy standards in 2015, and would create up to 300 jobs during construction and about 18 full-time operating positions. It will be eligible for federal production tax credits, which should reduce its cost for ratepayers by $253 million during the life of the plant, PGE said.

PGE has a non binding agreement with BPA to buy 1,500 megawatts of transmission capacity. As a result, PGE has decided to suspend permitting and development of the Cascade Crossing transmission project. PGE said the agreement reflects progress made on discussions with BPA surrounding Cascade Crossing, but there is no assurance of a binding agreement. PGE said changing market conditions created an opportunity to explore lower-cost alternatives that could provide needed transmission capacity with reduced environmental impacts.