Scout Clean Energy is expanding its proposal for a wind farm south of Kennewick to add solar and battery storage.
The revised proposal for the Horse Heaven Wind Farm would increase the total generation possible from 600 megawatts of electricity to 850 megawatts.
Some of the increased generation could come from expanding the possible maximum number of turbines from 212 to as many as 235.
The expansion of the proposed project along 24 miles of the ridgeline of the Horse Heaven Hills is possible because Scout was able to obtain more capacity on the Bonneville Power Administration electrical grid.
The addition of wind and solar was driven in part by the dropping costs of solar and battery storage and also by what Scout has heard from Tri-Cities area residents over the last six months.
“Throughout the development process, our team has been diligently examining ways to structure the most efficient project that will maximize the local resources and also integrate the power into the local grid reliably,” said Dave Kobus, Scout’s lead project manager for the Horse Heaven Wind Farm.
Combining wind, solar and battery storage helps deal with one of the biggest challenges with renewable power – the varying levels of electricity available to the grid depending on whether the wind is blowing or the sun is shining.
Building wind, solar and battery storage at the same location can improve grid reliability by providing electricity over more hours and storing power for when consumer demand for it is highest.
PUBLIC HEARINGS REQUIRED
As Scout has been explaining is proposed project in the Tri-Cities area over the last six months, it found many residents with advanced knowledge of power systems and grid requirements, Kobus said.
About 40% of Washington state’s power is produced within a 100-mile radius of the Tri-Cities, and 90% of the total wind generation in Washington and Oregon is within a 125-mile radius of the Tri-Cities, according to the latest figures available from the Tri-City Development Council.
“We have heard concerns about how renewable power such as wind affects the local grid,” he said.
Plans for the expanded project should alleviate some of the local apprehension, he said.
The percentage of the project devoted to wind, solar and battery storage could change depending on the preferences of the purchaser of the power from the project.
The project plans to seek permits to start production in two phases.
It could begin producing up to 350 megawatts of electricity in 2022 and two years later add up to 500 megawatts of electricity production.
One of Scout’s next steps will be to file a conditional use permit application with Benton County, which will include an environmental review, in the next few months. Two public hearings are required.
The filing has been delayed by several months by the coronavirus pandemic.
Scout has been working on the project since late 2016, including leasing land and conducting environmental studies.
Construction could start as soon as late 2021.
NUMBER OF JOBS
The wind farm would be visible from Highway 395 south of the Tri-Cities to the northwest of the already operating Nine Canyon Wind Project, which the new project would wrap around.
Turbines would be placed in rows from near Jump Off Joe Butte to the southwest, with much of the project built south of Badger Road.
It would be about 4 miles south of the TriCities at its closest point.
About 60,000 acres of land will be used, much of it leased from dryland wheat farmers, including farms in production as well as acreage in conservation reserves.
About 1,600 acres would be Washington state Department of Natural Resources land.
The proposed project would be much larger than Nine Canyon Wind Project, which has a maximum output of about 96 megawatts of electricity.
By comparison, the Columbia Generating Station nuclear power plant near Richland can generate 1,207 megawatts, which is enough to power a city the size of Seattle, plus some of its metro area.
Scout is touting the economic benefits of the project, saying that it could create at least 300 temporary construction jobs and 16-20 permanent jobs during operation.
It also would create millions of dollars in property tax revenue that would reduce the tax burden on other property owners, according to Scout.
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