Portland General Electric’s Tucannon River Wind Farm Earns ISI’s Envision® Sustainable Infrastructure Gold Award
November 9, 2015
Portland General Electric’s (NYSE: POR) Tucannon River Wind Farm project has received the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) Envision sustainable infrastructure rating system’s Gold award. Tucannon River Wind Farm is the first energy project to receive an ISI Envision-verified sustainable infrastructure award in North America.
“As the first energy project to be verified by the ISI Envision system in North America, the Tucannon River Wind Farm is exemplary in the Envision sustainable infrastructure rating categories, which includes quality of life, leadership, resource allocation, and natural world, as well as climate and risk.” said ISI President and CEO, William Bertera. “The Tucannon River team achieved highly rated infrastructure characteristics due to their commitment to the principles of sustainability.”
Located on 20,000 acres near Dayton, Washington, the 267-megawatt wind project is one of two large wind projects owned and operated by PGE. The project produces clean renewable energy that helps PGE meet Oregon’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires the investor-owned utility to supply 15 percent of the electricity to its customers from qualified renewable resources by 2015 and 25 percent by 2025.
Construction of the Tucannon River project began in 2013, and the facility went into commercial operation on Dec. 15, 2014. The wind farm includes 116 turbines atop 80-meter tubular steel towers. Given the variability of wind power, the plant produces an average of around 101 MW â€“ enough to power the homes of about 84,000 average residential customers.
“PGE is committed to providing safe, reliable electric service to our customers in an increasingly sustainable manner. This means working in partnership with our stakeholders to consider the impact of our long-term business decisions on people, the planet and our performance,” said Jim Piro, PGE president and CEO. “Earning the Envision Gold award for our Tucannon River Wind Farm â€“ the first energy facility in the nation to win this distinction – is a testament to the dedication and commitment of the PGE employees and contractors who stepped up to meet this challenge successfully.”
During initial phases, the Tucannon River project team looked at ways of reducing net embodied energy and designed the turbine foundations to reduce the amount of concrete. A significant portion of the construction materials used in the project was sourced locally. This reduced transportation costs and helped boost the regional economy. All the material excavated during construction was retained and reused onsite, and most of the wind farm components can be recycled at the end of the project life.
“As the provider of engineering and technical consulting services on the project, Burns & McDonnell is proud to have initiated and helped facilitate PGE’s application that resulted in achievement of the ISI Envision Gold award,” said Robert Healy, Burns & McDonnell Regional Global Practice manager. “We believe this will raise awareness of sustainable practices that will carry over to future projects.”
ISI’s Envision rating system measures sustainable infrastructure projects through the measurement of five categories: Quality of Life (QL), Leadership (LD), Natural World (NW), Resource Allocation (RA), and Climate and Risk (CR). These contribute to overall credits for the positive social, economic, and environmental impacts in a community in the planning, design, and construction of infrastructure projects.The Envision categories in which the Tucannon River Wind Farm scored highest include:
Quality of Life (QL): The project offers many benefits to the community including full-time, family-wage jobs, and income for local businesses, as well as increased county tax revenue and easement payments to landowners. It also benefits the Oregon economy by helping PGE provide customers with clean, renewable power at a reasonable price.
Leadership (LD): In the Leadership category, PGE established plans and resources necessary for the long-term monitoring and maintenance of sustainable performance for the completed project. In addition, environmental monitoring plans are used during operations to manage and protect sensitive natural and cultural resources.
Resource Allocation (RA): Tucannon River Wind Farm will provide a net positive amount of energy to the grid during the next 20 years. This project’s infrastructure contributes more than 676,000 megawatt-hours of clean, renewable energy to the grid each year. By contributing renewable energy to the grid, Tucannon River helps decrease dependence on fossil fuel energy sources and increase national energy independence.
Natural World (NW): Tucannon River Wind Farm was sited to avoid all wetlands and surface water, floodplains, steep slopes, and other potentially fragile or hazardous terrain. The project was also designed and constructed to avoid surface waters and to avoid contamination of waters. The project team reduced the use of hazardous and/or potentially polluting materials as much as was possible.
Climate and Risk (CR): The sustainable elements include that the project reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 92 percent during its lifetime compared to a conventional power plant with the same capacity.
The Tucannon River Wind Farm team thoroughly assessed likely hazards and upgraded designs to prepare for direct and indirect impacts of short-term hazards. In addition to hardening the infrastructure and configuring its systems to be more resilient to man-made hazards, designs have been implemented to withstand floods, wildfires, and extreme temperatures and winds. Specific protections have been added to address lightning strikes, ice storms, and seismic events.