Updated: PGE plans to buy wind farm near Dayton

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DAYTON — Portland General Electric said it plans to buy development rights to the Lower Snake River Wind Facility Phase II in Columbia County outside of Dayton.

The wind farm was under development by Puget Sound Energy, which has completed and currently operates Phase I of the electricity-generating facility.

PGE said in a press release Monday that Phase II of the facility should be completed by 2015 and will have 116 turbines with 267 megawatts of generating capacity, enough to power about 84,000 homes.

The transaction with Puget Sound Energy is expected to close in August and may cost PGE as much as $535 million.

Puget will continue to operate its Phase I facility. It was completed in 2012 and is Washington’s largest, stretching across Garfield and Columbia counties. The 149 turbines produce enough power, on average, to meet the needs of about 100,000 households annually.

PGE expects that Phase II will generate about 300 construction jobs and 18 full-time operations positions once the facility is completed. The facility will allow the company to comply with an Oregon law requiring 15 percent of electricity to be generated from renewable sources beginning in 2015.

PGE also announced plans for a 440-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant near Boardman along the Columbia River in Oregon costing up to $455 million, the Tri-City Herald reported.

Up to 500 construction jobs, most of them union, will be created and 20 full-time positions will be available when the plant is operating, according to PGE.

PGE requested bids a year ago for day-to-day electric power generation and for power generation from renewable resources.

The natural gas-fired power plant is planned to add additional baseload power to meet growing customer demand and to prepare for the expiration of long-term hydropower agreements, PGE spokesman Steven Corson said in the Herald report.

PGE already owns two plants near Boardman — the Coyote Spring Generating Station, a natural gas-fired plant, and 65 percent of the Boardman Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant.

PGE has agreed with Oregon state regulators to quit burning coal at the Boardman Generating Station in 2020. However, rather than shutting down the plant, PGE is researching a possible conversion to biomass.

The new natural-gas fired plant is not intended to replace the coal-fired plant, which supplies power for about 250,000 homes for PGE. A decision on replacing its coal-fired power output will be made closer to 2020, the Herald reported.

Rachel Alexander can be reached at rachelalexander@wwub.com or 509-526-8363.

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