WENATCHEE – A Native American tribe in northeastern Washington is partnering with a California company to explore the potential for wind energy there.
Clipper Windpower of Carpinteria, Calif, placed three wind gauges on the Confederated Tribes of the Colville reservation in July.
Peter Stricker, a Clipper vice president, said Thursday that wind testing would continue until about midyear. He declined to reveal the location of the wind gauges on the 1.4 million-acre reservation, which spans Okanogan and Ferry counties.
If studies prove the wind blows hard enough and often enough there, Clipper would seek to build a wind farm with up to 500 turbines, Stricker said. A wind farm of that size could create 50 to 200 temporary jobs during construction, then 10 to 20 permanent jobs to operate and maintain the wind turbines.
The tribes eventually would own all or part of the wind farm.
“That’s our general philosophy – to facilitate tribal ownership,” Stricker told the Wenatchee World for a story Friday.
Clipper currently has 50 wind projects under development nationwide with a total planned capacity of 10,000 megawatts. None are yet operational.
The Colville proposal is the company’s first in a new focus to explore American Indian tribal lands for wind potential nationwide.
“Colville is the beginning of an interest to be very tribe-friendly developers,” Stricker said. “We see the wind opportunity for the tribes as really tremendous.”
Founded in 2000, Clipper has 850 employees and a turbine-manufacturing plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
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