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Washington Wind Project Propels Local Jobs and Economic Growth

GOLDENDALE, WA – Renewable energy pioneers Cannon Power Group announced the completion of construction of Phase I of its Windy Points/Windy Flats project in Goldendale, Washington and the kickoff of construction for Phase II.

Expected to be fully completed by 2010, Windy Point/Windy Flats will be one of the largest wind projects in the U.S. in terms of size – 26 contiguous miles of ridgeline along the Columbia River – and generating 500 MW of wind power that will displace over 800 Metric Tons of carbon dioxide annually.

“As the finishing touches are done to officially commission Phase I (Windy Point), construction for Phase II (Windy Flats) has geared up quickly now that the winter weather is behind us,” said Gary Hardke, president and managing director of Cannon Power Group.  “We’re already seeing significant progress as nine turbines have been erected, 13 miles of roads constructed and our operations buildings are up and running.”

While Cannon Power Group, a strong and seasoned company, has navigated its way through the financial challenges faced by the renewable energy industry over the past year, they are encouraged by the recently enacted federal renewable energy support programs and believe it holds potential to create improved stability in the renewable energy market.

“The financial support from HSH Nordbank for Phase I and II has been integral to the success of this project and others,” continued Hardke.  “But with additional support from the recently-enacted federal stimulus package, we anticipate being able to continue moving this project forward to create more jobs, help the local economy and provide clean power for over 250,000 households.”

“Our construction team continues to do a superb job which we expect will not only continue but substantially accelerate as we go forward with Phases II and III,” said Gerry Monkhouse, founder and chairman of Cannon Power Group.   “Cannon Power Group has a long-time commitment to using as many local resources as possible when we build our projects. We believe it is very important to keep as much of the investment in the local community as we can.”

Monkhouse projected that Windy Point/Windy Flats will provide over 150 local jobs for the next two years including more than 20 direct jobs, 27 local subcontractors and an additional 23 local vendors, plus additional permanent administration, construction and operations jobs.  The project’s major subcontractors, Herling Construction Inc and KEMCO, report that of their workforce, approximately 75 – 80 percent respectively is local residents of Klickitat County.

The hospitality sector is benefiting as well with the town’s three hotels at full capacity and restaurants busy from project specialists who have come from Utah, Wyoming, Florida, and Michigan.

The capital investment in Klickitat County from the Windy Point/Windy Flats project is over $700 million for Phases I and II.  County tax revenues are expected to be approximately $2 million a year based on 350 WM – over $40 million for 20 years, the typical project life – that helps provide funding for community needs such as libraries, schools, and fire protection services.

The yearly rent paid by the projects to local landowners is expected to be another approximate $2 million a year for the first 350 WM – over $40 million for 20 years, the typical project life – that also is injected directly into the local economy.

According to Mike Canon, Klickitat County’s economic development director, wind farms create an average of one permanent job for every five megawatts, mostly as technicians – with salaries ranging from $50,000 – $60,000 per year.

Phase I included over 20 miles of roads, nine miles of transmission lines, two project substations and foundations and installments of 62 turbines (42 Siemens 2.3 MW turbines and 20 RE power 2.0 MW turbines).  Final project commissioning is expected next month.  Phase II will add another 21 miles of roads, ten miles of transmission lines, an additional two project substations, along with 88 Siemens 2.3 MW turbines.

Cannon Power Group entered into an arrangement to make significant project layout changes to ensure none of its Windy Flats turbines could be viewed from the Columbia Scenic Gorge Area.  Further, Cannon Power Group has committed to fund one of the largest habitat conservation programs in the Pacific Northwest.  This program will provide over $1 million for the preservation of sensitive wildlife habitat.

California also will benefit from the Windy Point/Windy Flats project which could help the state meet its renewable energy goals since two California off-takers are expected to purchase over 330 MW from Phase I and Phase II – including the Turlock Irrigation District for 136.6 MW of power from Phase I and another California entity for Phase II – with additional commitments expected.

To commemorate Windy Point’s completion, a commissioning ceremony largely to thank the Goldendale community for their commitment and support is scheduled for mid May.