Back in July we brought you word of a massive clean energy project valued at around half a billion dollars that was set to kick off on active and inactive farmland in southern Idaho’s Magic Valley. Ground has now been broken on this 10,000 acre project, which will include 11 wind farms hosting a total of 122 wind turbines that generate collectively 183 MW, or enough energy to power around 39,700 average Idaho homes.
The project, which received funding from a variety of sources including a large undisclosed chunk from GE, had its ceremonial kickoff a few days ago. Work is said to already be well under way, with an aggressive planned completion by year’s end. From a carbon footprint removal standard, the 11 wind farms collectively will remove the equivalent of 331,000 short tons a year in greenhouse gas emissions, as power generated from them replaces that of fossil fuel sources. This is said to be the equivalent of taking about 57,000 cars off the road.
The wind energy project is expected to create 175 construction jobs as well as permanent employment for operations and maintenance. In addition to the people employed directly, GE said, models suggest “that a wind project of this size would typically support the equivalent of 2,200 full-time jobs in the United States for one year—about half of which would be in-state—and create 25 permanent jobs.” GE Energy Financial Services, Atlantic Power, and project developer Exergy own non-managing member equity interests, and the farms will sell all of their power to Idaho Power Company under 20-year agreements.
“We have worked long and hard with our partners, including local landowners, contractors and suppliers, to create this historic project,” said James Carkulis, president and CEO of Exergy, which conceptualized, planned and engineered the project over the last five years, in a statement. “We wanted from the outset to make the right kind of difference in the lives of the people who live here, and we take great pride in our corporate responsibility, sensitivity to the local environment, and promotion of traditional Idaho and community values.”