Antelope Ridge wind farm withdrawn by developers

September 25, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

EDP Renewables North America
has withdrawn its application with Oregon siting authorities to build the controversial Antelope Ridge wind farm
near La Grande, citing poor market conditions.

‪The proposed 300 megawatt project comprised some 160 turbines in the rolling
mountains above the Grande Ronde Valley, about 10 miles southeast of La Grande.
It was highly controversial, dividing residents of Union County.  A
majority of Union County residents — 52 percent — voted against siting the wind
farm in 2010, though the vote was only advisory. Opponents cited wildlife and other environmental concerns, coupled with the visual impact on one of Oregon’s most scenic valleys.  Other residents supported the
project because of potential tax revenues and employment prospects.

Sam Littlefield, EDP’s project manager
for Antelope Ridge, said the withdrawal was “100 percent a business decision.”
The company faced a considerable investment to proceed with its site
certificate, and didn’t see a clear path to sell the power at this point.

‪”It’s a level of investment that’s not justified at this time,” Littlefield
said. “There’s no active procurement in Oregon or Washington that this project
would have been eligible for.”

‪The wind farm boom that Oregon was experiencing as recently as 2011 has died
down because of a change in California’s rules that makes it hard to export
wind power to that state, formerly the biggest customer for Northwest
renewables. Utilities in the Northwest are still building, though most are in
good shape to meet upcoming requirements under Oregon and Washington’s
renewable energy mandates.

‪Littlefield said EDP participated in the competitive bidding process for new
renewable resources that Portland General Electric completed this summer, but Antelope
Ridge wasn’t selected. He said the project could come back and
rejoin permitting efforts when demand recovers.

Renewable energy
advocates point to the slated closure of several large coal plants in the
region, and say they hope some portion of that generation can be replaced
with renewable power.

Jed Farmer, chair of the Friends
of the Grande Ronde Valley, said his members were pleased with EDP’s decision to
halt permitting on Antelope Ridge, but conscious the project could be
resuscitated if the market improves or EDP sells the rights to develop the
project.

“We’re not completely
against wind power, but this location is unique and it didn’t make sense for it
to go in here,” Farmer said. “My understanding is that it could come back, but
they’d have to start from the beginning.”   

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