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Google, ITOCHU Corp. subsidiary Tyr Energy, and Sumitomo Corp. subsidiary Sumitomo Corp. of America are investing approximately $500 million in the $2 billion, 845 MW Shepherds Flat wind project, which is being developed by Caithness Energy in Oregon. Additional financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

The Shepherds Flat wind project stretches across 30 square miles of Gilliam and Morrow counties in north-central Oregon and is expected to be completed next year.

"This project is particularly attractive because it deploys advanced turbine technology while delivering clean, renewable energy," says Rick Needham, director of green business operations at Google. "We hope that our support for Shepherds Flat encourages more investment in this sector and accelerates the development of clean energy resources across the country." Construction is proceeding in three phases. All turbine foundations have been completed, and electrical work and road construction are nearing completion on the first 265 MW phase; road and turbine foundation construction is more than half complete on the second 290 MW phase; and road construction and foundation construction are continuing on the third 290 MW phase.

Turbine shipments to the site are expected to begin this spring. Construction involves the erection of 338 turbines and the development of 95 miles of roads and 167 miles of transmission lines. Caithness Energy has estimated that the project will inject $16 million annually of direct economic benefits into Oregon, and will employ 400 workers during construction and 35 during operation.

The project will be the first wind farm in the U.S. to use GE Energy's 2.5xl wind turbines, which are larger than its other models and use permanent magnet generators. The 2.5xl wind turbines for the Shepherds Flat wind farm are assembled at GE's site in Pensacola, Fla. In addition to supplying the wind turbines, GE will provide operational and maintenance services to the project.

Under three 20-year power purchase agreements, the Shepherds Flat wind farm will supply renewable energy to Southern California Edison.

SOURCE: GE Energy Financial Services

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