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Construction starts on wind farm

Project will help Avista meet state standard

A $210 million wind farm to be built south of Spokane this summer will include 58 windmills and generate power for about 30,000 Northwest homes.

Boston-based First Wind marked the start of construction Tuesday with a ceremony attended by its CEO, Paul Gaynor, Avista CEO Scott Morris, state lawmakers and other industry and community leaders.

The 58 turbines will capture the prevailing southwest wind, generating up to 105 megawatts of power. They’ll go up about 45 miles south of Spokane in northern Whitman County, west of Oakesdale.

The Palouse Wind project is expected to be complete by November and online by the end of the year. First Wind has a 30-year agreement to sell power to Avista, the Spokane-based utility serving Eastern Washington and North Idaho. It’s the first wind project built in Avista’s service territory, and it will help Avista achieve its goal of meeting Washington’s renewable portfolio standard.

“The Palouse project joins with other important renewable sources, including our hydropower system, in providing clean, emission-free energy,” said Rep. Susan Fagan, R-Pullman. “And just as importantly, it brings economic opportunity to the region in the form of jobs and revenues.”

Gaynor said construction will create about 150 jobs and result in $30 million of spending with local businesses. Once it’s operational, Whitman County will receive about $12 million over the next 20 years in property tax revenues.

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