Windy Point/Windy Flats, State of Washington
Spanning 30 miles and offering a capacity of 500 megawatts, Cannon Power Group’s Windy Point/Windy Flats development represents one of the largest wind energy projects in the United States. This type of wind farm contributes directly to cleaner air, reducing harmful emissions from energy production and reversing the effects of climate change, the environment is hardly the only beneficiary. From infusing jobs, tax revenue and improved infrastructure into local economies, to helping provide energy security and new economic opportunities for the country as a whole, it is clear Windy Point/Windy Flats cultivates much more than wind.
FACTS ON THE WINDY POINT/WINDY FLATS PROJECT
Windy Point/Windy Flats represents one of the largest wind energy projects in the United States.
- The 90 square-mile wind farm spans 30 miles along the Columbia River ridgeline offering upon completion a capacity of 500 MW—enough clean electricity for over 250,000 households per year.
- Construction of 400 of the 500 MW was completed by the end of 2009. The construction of the remaining 100 MW is currently on hold.
- Windy Point/Windy Flats will displace over 800 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually—equivalent to roughly one million driven miles.
The community benefits make Windy Point/Windy Flats unique and innovative.
- The capital investment in Klickitat County from the project exceeds $1 billion to date.
- The yearly rent paid by the project to local landowners is expected to be approximately $3 million a year for the first 400 MW—over $60 million for 20 years, the typical life of the project—and injected directly into the local economy.
- County tax revenues are expected to be approximately $2 million a year based on 400 MW—over $40 million for 20 years, the typical project life—that helps provide funding for community needs such as libraries, schools, hospitals and fire protection services.
- County infrastructure upgraded (roads improved; new transmission lines built) at a cost to the project of over $19 million.
- The combined project cost of Windy Point/Windy Flats to date is over $1 billion.
The project’s developer, Cannon Power Group, is dedicated to using as many local resources as possible when building their projects, including the use of regional vendors and contractors.
- The project has provided more than 350 jobs, plus many permanent administrative and operational positions.
- More than 75% of these jobs are filled by local residents.
Windy Point/Windy Flats was constructed in a remarkably short period of time despite the economic climate.
- With the completion of Phase I (Windy Point/137 megawatts) and Phase II (Windy Flats/262 megawatts), Cannon Power Group constructed a total of 400 MW within 18 months—more than twice all the wind projects developed in California in 2008 and 2009.
California will benefit from the Windy Point/Windy Flats project which helps the state meet its renewable energy goals since two California off-takers have purchased over 400 MW of power.
- The first 137 MW phase (Windy Point) was completed in May 2009 and sold in July 2009 for $385 million to the Tuolumne Wind Project Authority—a California joint powers agency formed by the Turlock Irrigation District and the Walnut Energy Center Authority.
- The Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA)—a joint powers agency comprising of 11 municipal utilities and one irrigation district—purchased 262 MW from Phase II (Windy Flats) in October 2009.
The Windy Point/Windy Flats project is one of the most significant pre-pay power purchase agreement transactions concluded to date.
- Cannon Power Group financed the capital costs of the Windy Flats project with a novel approach using a combination of federal stimulus funding and the pre-payment by SCPPA of a 20-year block of power from the project.
- The combination of the treasury grants (over $170 million) and the energy pre-payment (over $500 million) paid off the project’s construction costs. SCPPA, in turn, financed its energy pre-payment by the issuance of tax exempt bonds.
- This innovative structure resulted in a favorable long-term cost of power.
Cannon Power Group’s track record demonstrates its strong commitment to environmental concerns and local communities in the areas they serve.
- One of Washington’s most precious treasures, the Maryhill Museum of Art, is home to 15 of the project’s wind turbines and receives $250,000 in revenue each year starting in 2009. According to the American Wind Energy Association, this is believed to be the first wind energy project in the United States to generate revenues for a nonprofit museum. Additionally, Cannon Power Group made an “in-kind” donation to the Maryhill Museum of $18,000 worth of concrete to improve their parking lot and side walk areas.
- Cannon has contributed $1.2 million to a Columbia River Gorge habitat preservation fund for Phases I and II.
- Cannon has also actively supported a wide range of local charitable organizations.
“Local stores, restaurants, coffee shops, garages, gift shops, hardware stores, fuel supply businesses and a range of new wind farm support businesses will develop. Full-time living wages will emerge at expanded local businesses, new businesses and the wind farm related job opportunities… The tax base will greatly increase. School districts will have larger budgets for education and maintenance equipment and buildings. Improved county revenues would be able to go toward better roads including for school bus routes.”
Mike Cannon, Klickitat County Economic Development Director
“This is literally a ‘wind-win’ situation – the museum will earn much-needed funds and at the same time, play an important role in renewable energy project… Revenue from the wind farm will provide additional resources to maintain the museum building and grounds, and allow us to meet the needs of our growing audiences.”
Colleen Schafroth, Executive Director of Maryhill Museum of Art