A wind energy developer was given approval in mid- November to begin construction of a 48MW wind plant in south-central Washington state. The Nine Canyon Wind Project will be the largest U.S. wind project that is owned by public utilities.

Energy Northwest, a public power agency made up of 16 public utilities in Washington, recently completed a $70.675 million bond sale to finance the project. Formerly the Washington Public Power Supply System, Energy Northwest last issued such bonds 20 years ago to finance the WNP-4 and -5 nuclear plants, which were later cancelled. It currently operates one nuclear plant and one hydroelectric facility.

RES Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of United Kingdom's Renewable Energy Systems Limited, has been awarded the contract to build the wind plant. The Nine Canyon Wind Project will comprise 37 1.3-MW wind turbines from Bonus, a Danish company. With an anticipated federal rebate of 1.5 cents per KWh, it will generate power at a cost of 3.5 cents per KWh. Nine of the Energy Northwest member utilities will buy the power from the project.