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Wind turbine blades, roughly 220-feet in length, were shipped in last month to the laydown yard just south of Rainier. Thirty-eight wind turbines will be installed on about 22,000 acres in south Thurston County and northern Lewis County.

Southern Power, a clean energy subsidiary of gas-and-electric utility Southern Company, has purchased the Skookumchuck Wind Farm.

The Georgia-based company announced the acquisition Monday, Oct. 28, in a press release, and Joel Leineke, executive vice president of construction for Renewable Energy Systems-Americas (RES-Americas), confirmed the purchase to the Nisqually Valley News.

TransAlta to Buy 49 Percent Interest in Skookumchuck Wind Project

The 38-turbine project currently being developed and assembled by RES-Americas is being built on the border of Thurston and Lewis counties. When the facility becomes operational in January, the electricity generated will be sold to Puget Sound Energy through a 20-year contract.

Leineke said the two energy companies closed on the acquisition Thursday, Oct. 24. Leineke said he could not comment on the price the wind farm sold for.

“This project has been earmarked for Southern Power for some time,” he said, adding that RES-Americas and Southern Power have three active wind farm partnerships.

In an email to the Nisqually Valley News, Leighton Burkett, a spokesperson with Southern Power, said the company does not plan on disclosing the financial terms of its acquisition. Southern Power currently owns 100 percent of the project and plans on selling 49 percent of the operation to TransAlta once the facility achieves commercial operation, she said. 

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Large portions of wind turbine sit organized at the lay down yard off Vail Loop Road.

RES-Americas and its contractors are currently in the process of building the infrastructure needed to transport and install the wind turbines on Skookumchuck Ridge.

In September, the project entered its construction phase and saw a great deal of traffic as contractors hauled in turbines, sections at a time. Leineke said RES-Americas is still working on constructing a road up the ridge, finishing the foundations for the turbines and engineering the underground electrical line.

Leineke said the project is currently running a month behind its original schedule, but he said it is still looking to produce energy by January as originally planned. The project was originally slated to be mostly finished by December, but minor weather hazards have pushed back that date.

Skookumchuck Wind Turbine Project Entering Construction Phase

“It’s ramping up quite fast at this point,” Leineke said. “I’m sure over the next couple weeks, we’ll start taking (sections) up the mountain and start erecting.”

Since this summer, residents around southern Thurston County have noticed the large number of oversized loads being driven to a laydown yard in Vail, just south of the town of Rainier.

There are currently enough parts at the laydown yard to construct 15 turbines, Leineke said. Deliveries to the yard are expected to end in November.

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This story will be updated.

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