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TransAlta to Buy 49% interest in Skookumchuck Wind Project

Power News - Published on Fri, 31 May 2019

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
TransAlta has agreed to purchase a 49 percent interest in the Skookumchuck wind energy project located near its Centralia coal plant, the company announced Tuesday, part of efforts to burnish its clean energy portfolio. The 38-turbine project being constructed in Lewis and Thurston counties is scheduled to begin producing power by December, the brainchild of renewable energy company RES-Americas. Now, TransAlta whose soon-to-be defunct coal plant operates nearby is coming onboard. The company’s purchase agreement will take effect “upon commercial operation.”

TransAlta USA President Bob Nelson said in a statement that “This investment aligns with TransAlta’s mission to transition to clean energy. With this investment we have an opportunity to continue to support Washington’s clean energy path while providing affordable and reliable power to families across the state.”

The Skookumchuck project will produce 137 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 100,000 households. That electricity will be sold to Puget Sound Energy. The project, which will cost more than $200 million, is expected to have a lifespan of about 50 years, providing about 300 jobs during construction, with six or seven full-time employees for long-term operations.

It’s unclear what role TransAlta will play in operations or planning following its investment in the project. The move comes a little more than a year after TransAlta announced it would repurpose 1,000 acres of its former coal mine to serve as a solar farm — producing about 180 megawatts of power. That project, Tono Solar, is expected to come online in late 2020.

The company’s coal operations in Centralia have long been a key source of power and jobs in the region, but an agreement reached with the state in 2011 will phase out the plant, which is responsible for around 10 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. TransAlta will shut down one of its coal burners in 2020, with the remaining burner closing in 2025.

The Canadian-based company has said it plans to remove coal from its portfolio by 2030.

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Posted By : Rabi Wangkhem on Fri, 31 May 2019
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