Cantwell Says Snake River Wind Project Will Power Economic Growth in SE Washington

Applauds ground-breaking of Puget Sound Energy's project as milestone in Washington's clean energy future

WASHINGTON, DC –U.S Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) said the groundbreaking today of a major Puget Sound Energy (PSE) wind generation installation along the Lower Snake River celebrates a project that will create up to 150 green jobs and help meet Washington’s growing demand for clean energy.  In addition to the 150 green jobs created during construction, the project will also create up to 25 permanent jobs for maintenance and operations and provide a permanent boost to local tax revenues.  More than 98 percent of the land will remain available for farming, with farmers receiving lease payments once the wind facility enters operation. Today’s groundbreaking ceremony celebrates a project that actually got under way last spring at a site near Pomeroy in Garfield County, WA. This, PSE’s third wind facility, will become operational in 2012, with 149 wind turbines providing clean power to more than 100,000 homes.  The Clean Energy Treasury Grant Program, which Cantwell championed, was instrumental in getting this project off the ground.
“Clean energy projects like this provide a much needed economic boost during these tough economic times and they are an investment in our clean energy future,” Senator Cantwell said. “These clean energy facilities create jobs today, diversify our energy sources for tomorrow, and help reduce carbon pollution in the years to come.” 
The highly-successful Treasury Grant Program (TGP) was created as part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to promote and maintain strong growth in the renewable energy sector during tough economic times, create clean-energy jobs, and help diversify our nation’s energy mix. According to a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Report, the TGP program will have created more than 143,000 jobs from its inception to the end of this year. The program provides cash grants in lieu of tax credits for renewable energy projects. The recession has cut into profits, making tax credits a less effective tool for promoting clean-energy development. For that reason, Cantwell supports extension of the Treasury Grant Program and introduced bipartisan legislation to extend TGP through 2012 to prevent a slow-down in project development in anticipation of its impending expiration at the end of the year.
The Lower Snake River Wind Project builds on the success of PSE’s Hopkins Ridge Wind Facility, located near Dayton in Columbia County, and the contribution it makes to the local economy and renewable energy.  Cantwell visited Hopkins Ridge Wind Facility this past July to stress the importance of developing and diversifying Washington state’s clean energy resources to support job creation, stimulate economic growth, and protect the environment. The economic stimulus generated from 30 permanent jobs in Columbia County and leasing-income for landowners benefit the local community by contributing up to $900,000 in annual tax revenue. PSE’s Hopkins Ridge Wind Facility became operational in November 2005, with 87 wind turbines spanning 11,000-acres of mostly privately owned range and farm land, providing electricity to over 50,000 homes. PSE also operates and owns the Wild Horse Wind Facility in Kittitas County and is recognized by the American Wind Energy Association as the nation’s second-largest utility owner and operator of wind power. 
Cantwell has made making our nation's energy system cleaner, more efficient and more diverse one of her top priorities. She leverages her membership on the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources, Finance, and Commerce Committees to advance her vision of a clean energy economy and to support budding clean-energy industries, while bringing tax relief to the American people and opening new markets to American goods and services. Just last week, Cantwell introduced the Renewable Electricity Promotion Act of 2010, which would gradually increase the amount of renewable energy produced in America and provide a loan fund to make it much easier and less expensive to build clean energy projects. In October 2008, Cantwell spearheaded bipartisan negotiations that ended a nearly year and a half Congressional stalemate and allowed a historic $17 billion clean energy tax package to pass the Senate by a vote of 93 to 2. The measure included renewable energy production tax credits that are critical to getting new wind farms built and keeping costs low for ratepayers.