Feds approve transmission line for Steens Mountain wind farm
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
The federal government last week issued a key approval for a power line to connect a proposed Harney County wind farm with the electrical grid.
The U.S. Department of the Interior last week delivered a crucial approval to support the development of a 104-megawatt wind farm on Steens Mountain in Oregon's Harney County.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar gave a green light to the North Steens Transmission Line Project, a 44-mile power line to carry power from a proposed wind power project on the north side of Steens Mountain to the electrical transmission grid.
The Echanis Wind Energy Project, proposed by Vancouver, Wash.-based Columbia Energy Partners on private land near Diamond, would generate enough power for about 30,000 homes. The project is also expected to create 219 construction jobs, 16 permanent jobs and $4.5 million in property tax revenue.
The Interior Department also approved the right-of-way for a power line on public land to support the Centinela Solar Energy Project, a utility-scale, 275-megawatt solar plant.
The projects were the 26th and 27th renewable energy projects advanced by the department in the last two years.
"As we continue to move thoughtfully and quickly toward a clean energy future, these projects are strengthening local economies by generating good jobs and reliable power," Salazar said in a statement.
The Wall Street Journal notes that the pace for approving such large-scale renewable energy projects is picking up.
Columbia Energy Partners announced in November it would abandon plans for two other wind farm projects in the Steens Mountain area, in part to clear the way for the approval of Echanis and the related transmission line.
Columbia worked with the Bureau of Land Management and other state, local and federal agencies to mitigate environmental impacts of the project, including plans specific to sage grouse, golden eagles, migratory birds and bats.
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