Cowlitz and Klickitat PUDs Share DOE Public Power Wind Pioneer Award

June 16, 2009

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Wind Powering America Program today announced that two Washington state public utility districts, Cowlitz County PUD and Klickitat PUD, are co-winners of the 2009 Public Power Wind Pioneer Award. They were cited for outstanding teamwork and innovation in the development of the White Creek Wind Farm.

A panel of wind, government, national laboratory, and public power experts from across the United States selected Cowlitz and Klickitat from 16 public power utilities nominated for the award this year. This seventh annual award was created in conjunction with American Public Power Association (APPA) and the Demonstration of Energy-Efficient Developments (DEED) Program to recognize public power wind pioneers and leaders. DOE presented the award at APPA's National Conference in Salt Lake City on June 16.

Covering 9,500 acres of ranchland in eastern Washington with 89 wind turbines, the 205-MW White Creek Wind Farm in Klickitat County, Washington, is one of the largest public power-initiated wind projects in the nation and produces enough electricity to power 38,000 homes. Cowlitz and Klickitat own the majority interest in the project, 46% and 26% respectively. The PUDs joined with Lakeview Light and Power and Tanner Electric Cooperative in 2001with the goal of developing local wind resources.

The innovative financing plan is the greatest success of White Creek. As public utilities, the four partners were unable to capitalize on the Federal Production Tax Credits (PTC) needed to reduce the power output cost.

The utilities worked hard to find a group of private investors who were compatible with their goal of maximizing local control and retaining a cost-based source of electricity. In 2006, a private investment group including affiliates of Prudential Capital Group, Lehman Brothers, and Summit Power purchased the project. The partners all signed 20-year agreements to purchase power from the new owners, with an option to buy the project back in 10 years. The patience, persistence, and leadership shown by this year's Public Power Wind Pioneers has produced benefits for local landowners, Klickitat County, private investors, and most importantly, the ratepayers of the four utility partners.

The American Public Power Association is the national service organization representing the nation's more than 2,000 community- and state-owned electric utilities and it cosponsors the Wind Pioneer Awards program. Previous winners have included municipal utilities in Hull, Massachusetts, Waverly, Iowa, and Fort Collins, Colorado. Learn more at the American Public Power Association Web site.

Wind Powering America is a program of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). The program is committed to dramatically increasing the use of wind energy in the United States. EERE through its Wind Powering America effort and other programs will help the nation achieve targeted regional economic development, enhanced power generation options, improved environmental conditions, increased domestic energy supply, and national security. For more information visit the Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program Web site.