What impact will the expansion of the wind energy industry have in Oregon?
According to a report by the American Wind Energy Association, the U.S. has recently surpassed Germany as the leading producer of wind energy worldwide this year. That same organization says that Oregon is the seventh-ranked state in the nation in terms of its installed wind capacity. And just last week, the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council approved plans for a new wind farm in Shepherd’s Flat which, if completed, would more than double the state’s current wind energy megawatt capacity.
While the Shepherd’s Flat project would join numerous other wind farms along the Columbia River Basin*, the next frontier for wind power in Oregon may be the state’s southeastern region. At least two major wind companies are looking into projects ranging from the Stinkingwater Mountains to the Pueblo Mountains.
Wind turbines’ potential impact on the surrounding environment and bird, salmon and human populations have drawn some criticism of wind farm projects in the past. However, a relatively new focus of concern over wind power seems to be how the energy will be incorporated into the current power grid, which some say may not have the capacity or geographic spread to handle an influx of wind megawatts from southeastern Oregon. Proponents say that the importance of expanding wind power’s reach outweighs this potential risk.
Is there a place for a major wind power presence in Oregon? How will wind farms in the Southeast integrate with the power sources already in place in our state? What hopes or concerns do you have about wind energy’s impact on your community?
- Ken Dragoon: Research director for Renewable Northwest Project
- Chris Taylor: Director of development for Horizon Wind Energy
- Eric Rosenbloom: Founder of Vermonters with Vision