Work is planned to start in late March to construct the Vantage Wind Energy Project, a $200 million to $300 million wind farm proposed for seven miles west of Vantage, with fewer turbines than previously planned.
A general contractor for the main work at the site 15 miles east of Ellensburg between Interstate 90 and Vantage Highway will likely be selected in the next 30 days, according to Mike Logsdon, director of development for Invenergy Wind North America LLC.
“We’ve asked firms that are bidding on the project to go back and get more local contractors into their plans,” Logsdon said from his office in Portland. “We really want to stress getting local contractors involved; we want more of them.”
The local contractors, he said, would be involved with earth-moving, heavy equipment operation, the supply of gravel, concrete and related concrete work.
Work in March will start with road building, trenching and excavation for turbine locations.
Kittitas County commissioners in May 2008 approved the project to put up 69 wind-powered turbines atop towers that will be 390 feet tall from tip of extended rotor blade to the ground.
Logsdon on Tuesday said that number has been narrowed to 60 turbines for a variety of reasons involving the “micro-siting” process.
County officials in late October, according to Logsdon, approved a construction permit. Federal Aviation Administration officials recently have approved the specific locations for the 60 towers.
“Our sites are pretty much fixed, at this point,” Logsdon said, except for a few minor changes.
The reduction in turbine numbers isn’t related to increasing turbine costs, he said, but is because of several factors including setting exact locations of each tower.
The turbines, blades and metal towers for the project have been arriving by ship for some time at different ports and are being stored at the Port of Longview and near Olympia.
He said having them on hand before construction will help expedite the project and steer clear of any delays in their delivery from overseas. Invenergy’s goal is to have the wind farm completed and operating by the end of 2009.
Logsdon said a buyer for the power from the wind farm continues to be sought.
He also said negotiations are under way with property owners in the east county area for a possible second Invenergy wind farm but declined to share details about the location of that project.
The Vantage Wind Energy Project is about three miles southwest of the existing 127-turbine Wild Horse Wind Power Project owned and operated by Puget Sound Energy. PSE plans to add 22 more turbines to its project this year on the north side.
The Vantage wind farm and plans for a second project are within the county’s 500-square-mile wind energy overlay zone. The zone is an area on the county’s east end that is pre-identified as being generally compatible for wind farms.