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Avista Utilities, Clearway Energy Group begin operations at Rattlesnake Flat wind farm in Adams County

UPDATED: Wed., Dec. 16, 2020

Avista Utilities and Clearway Energy Corp. announced Tuesday that commercial operations started at the Rattlesnake Flat wind farm in Adams County. The 160-megawatt project is capable of supplying power to 38,000 homes.  (Courtesy photo)
Avista Utilities and Clearway Energy Corp. announced Tuesday that commercial operations started at the Rattlesnake Flat wind farm in Adams County. The 160-megawatt project is capable of supplying power to 38,000 homes. (Courtesy photo)

Commercial operations are now underway at Avista Utilities and Clearway Energy Group’s Rattlesnake Flat wind farm in Adams County.

Avista Utilities and Clearway Energy Group began construction in April of Rattlesnake Flat, which is located on 20,000 acres of land near Lind.

A majority of the site is privately-owned, while nearly 640 acres is on state trust lands managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. 

The 160-megawatt Rattlesnake Flat consists of 57 wind turbines that will provide enough energy to power 38,000 homes per year, officials said. The turbines connect to Avista’s transmission grid as part of a 20-year purchase power agreement between the Spokane-based utility company and San Francisco-based Clearway Energy Corp.

Avista Corp. CEO Dennis Vermillion said during a virtual ceremony on Tuesday that Rattlesnake Flat aligns with the utility company’s goal of providing clean, reliable energy to customers at a reasonable cost.

“We knew the timing was right for this project for Avista because it captured lower turbine prices and all the federal and state tax benefits, which of course is a big benefit to our customers,” Vermillon said. “Market changes, including reductions in the cost of wind power facilities and the tax incentives, really have combined to make this an excellent time to acquire long-term output from cost-effective wind resources.”

He also said that “keeping energy affordable for our customers is paramount, especially with so many struggling right now during the challenging time that we are in.”

The Rattlesnake Flat project is one of the first renewable energy projects to be built following passage of Washington’s Clean Energy Transformation Act in 2019. The law commits the state to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045.

“When we passed clean energy legislation in 2019, we had projects like Rattlesnake Flat in mind,” Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement. “They have demonstrated that we can build our economy with clean energy jobs while reducing costs for customers. It is clear that climate change poses an existential threat to all of us, and projects like this one show we can rise to the challenge.”

Minnesota-based Blattner Energy, Inc. was the project contractor. Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy manufactured the wind turbines for Rattlesnake Flat, which is Clearway Energy Corp.’s first wind project in Washington.

“This project’s construction means that we’ll be delivering clean, low-cost power for hundreds of thousands of households for the next 30 years,” Clearway Energy Corp. CEO Craig Cornelius said. “And … it has meant economic opportunity and access to family-wage jobs and a growing sector of the economy.”

During construction, Rattlesnake Flat created 250 jobs, with 10 full-time employees who will operate and maintain the wind farm.

The project brought a $12-million investment into the local economy and will generate $350,000 annually, officials said.

The project also will contribute $1.5 million in property tax revenue in its first year of operation and an annual average of about $700,000 for the next 30 years, according to a company release.

“Adams County is thrilled that this wind farm is completed and delivering clean renewable power to area residents,” County Commissioner John Marshall said in a statement.

“After years of research, planning, and cooperation, Clearway and its partners have delivered a job-creating project that’s helping to diversify our local economy and bolster the resilience of our communities,” he said.

This article was updated Dec. 16 to reflect that 640 acres of the Rattlesnake Flat wind farm is on state trust lands managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. 

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