Wind developer Scout Clean Energy is scrambling to get local permits for a proposed 600 MW wind farm along the Columbia River near the Tri-Cities.

With corporations and utilities looking to drive fossil fuel resources out of their portfolios, the Boulder, Colo.-based developer is confident it can find a buyer for the output.

"This particular wind site has a power profile that's more aligned with loads of Northwest utilities," project manager David Kobus said.

Its overall capacity factor is expected to be more than one-third, with generation strongest from the late fall to early spring, he said.

"We are a storm-driven resource," as opposed to the thermal-driven generation profiles of wind projects in Columbia Gorge, he said.

Kobus is a 25-year Energy Northwest veteran and helped develop the adjacent Nine Canyon Wind Project.

Scout Clean Energy's project would run 24 miles along Horse Heaven Hills, which lends its name to the proposed wind farm, on land leased from farmers and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

The project currently is in BPA's interconnection queue for 600 MW. It has two interconnections, allowing Scout to develop the wind farm in two phases. The first part would connect to BPA's 115 kV line at Red Mountain and could have up to 250 MW capacity. Scout plans to have that on line by October 2021. The second part would come on line about a month later and connect to BPA's 230 kV line at McNary Dam via a new substation in Bofer Canyon about 9 miles from the dam.

The company has to use turbines from General Electric, an investor in Scout. GE currently has a 2.82 MW wind turbine available and could have a 3.03 MW turbine available by 2021.

"We're going to get it if we can," Kobus said.

With the smaller turbine, the project would have 212 windmills and 198 with the larger turbine.

The project has qualified for a production tax credit, so long as it comes on line by the end of 2021. After that, "we take a 20 percent haircut," he said.

"We're scrambling to get together our applications for those local permits" to meet that deadline, he said.

Construction could start as soon as this fall.

Once the project is permitted and has a buyer, Scout will secure financing. Scout is owned by Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, a United Kingdom-based investment firm that specializes in renewable energy and low carbon resources.

A property owner has asked that Benton County PUD's existing 115 kV line be moved to run alongside 115 kV line Scout plans to build.

"Benton PUD has not agreed to co-locate our line at this point, but we are working with the property owner and Scout to consider options," said Rick Dunn, Benton PUD's senior manager of engineering and power management.

Contributing Editor

Dan has covered stories from Seattle to Tbilisi; spent time with the AP, Everett Daily Herald and Christian Science Monitor; and was twice a member of a team nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He and his wife have three young children and live in Seattle.