Google pumps $100M into Shepherds Flat wind farm

Google announced Monday on its company blog that the Web-tech giant will invest $100 million in the Shepherds Flat wind farm going up in Eastern Oregon.

Google pumps $100M into Shepherds Flat wind farm

The post, written by Google's Rick Needham, director of green business operations, said it will join investors General Electric, which is also the turbine manufacturer, Sumimoto Corporation of America and Tyr Energy. The firms also issued a press release with additional details.

In all, the new investors — Google, ITOCHU Corporation subsidiary Tyr Energy and Sumitomo Corporation subsidiary Sumitomo Corporation of America — are putting in about $500 million. The full price tag of the project is pegged at $2 billion.

The Shepherds Flat project, billed as what will be the country's largest wind farm, secured a $1.3 billion loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy in December.

Shepherds Flat wind farm construction has begun.
Shepherds Flat wind farm construction has begun.

The 845-megawatt wind-generation facility will touch Gilliam and Morrow counties in Eastern Oregon and is being developed by Caithness Energy LLC and GE Energy Financial Services.

The power generated by the farm will be sold directly to Southern California Edison through 20-year fixed price power purchase agreements. Supporters say it will avoid 1.2 million tons of air pollution per year.

Construction of the Shepherds Flat wind project is expected to create 400 jobs, with 35 permanent jobs supported on site once it's created. The three-phase construction project is underway and based out of Arlington, Ore., with turbine shipments expected to begin later this spring.

"This project is exciting to us not only because of its size and scale, but also because it uses advanced technology," Needham wrote. "This will be the first commercial wind farm in the U.S. to deploy, at scale, turbines that use permanent magnet generators—tech-speak for evolutionary turbine technology that will improve efficiency, reliability and grid connection capabilities."

The investment brings Google's total investment in clean energy to more than $350 million, including the recent $168 million in a Mojave Desert solar project by BrightSource Energy — the company's largest single renewable energy investment to date.

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