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$1.4 billion for turbines to drive world’s largest wind farm

GE TurbinesGE has won a $1.4 billion contract with independent power producer Caithness Energy to provide turbines and services for an 845-megawatt Oregon wind farm that would be the largest in the world.

The Shepherds Flat project has already received most of the necessary government permits to operate and is ready to begin construction.

“The Shepherds Flat project will add more renewable energy to the west coast’s energy mix and help the region meet its demand for clean energy,” said Les Gelber, a partner at Caithness Energy.

Stretching across 30 square miles in north-central Oregon, near the town of Arlington, the wind farm project marks the US debut and largest single global order yet of GE’s 2.5xl wind turbines. A total of 338 such turbines will be installed in 2011 and 2012.

The GE 2.5xl turbines are already installed in sites in Europe and Asia.

Caithness Energy estimates the $2 billion project will inject $16 million annually of direct economic benefits into Oregon, and will employ 400 workers during construction and 35 during operation. Construction will be on a grand scale not only because of the large number of turbines, but because 85 miles of road and 90 miles of power connection to the grid also need to be built. Construction is set to begin next year and to be completed in 2012.

GE Energy Financial Services — with a portfolio of more than 40 wind farms with a total capacity to produce more than 6 bigawatts of electricity — is investing in the project.

In addition to supplying the wind turbines, GE will provide ten years of operational and maintenance services to the project.

The 2.5xl wind turbines for the Shepherds Flat wind farm will be assembled at GE’s site in Pensacola, Florida.

“Our capability to build these machines here in the United States and provide local resources and expertise were key factors in winning the contract with Caithness Energy,” said Steve Bolze, president & CEO of GE Power & Water.

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