General Electric last week won a $1.4 billion contract to supply wind turbines for the 845-MW Shepherds Flat wind farm proposed by independent power producer Caithness Energy. If built, the 338-turbine Oregon wind farm would be the largest in the world.

The $2 billion wind farm has reportedly received a majority of necessary government permits to operate. Construction, which will begin in 2010, will include building 85 miles of road and 90 miles of transmission lines connecting the farm to the grid. GE said the order was the singe largest order of its 2.5 x l wind turbines. Most will be installed in 2011 and 2012, when the project is expected to be operational. 

The turbine, developed with GE’s 1.5-MW wind turbine, has not yet been installed in North America, though several European and Asian wind farms use it. GE said it would also provide 10 years of operational and maintenance services to the project.

The Shepherds Flat wind farm will supply renewable energy to Southern California Edison (SCE) under three 20-year power purchase agreements. SCE expects that the 2 billion-kWh project would supply a tenth of SCE’s renewable energy and help that company meet California’s renewable portfolio standard.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, an industry group, total U.S. wind power capacity increased 5.4% in the third quarter of 2009, to 31,040 MW, as project financing resumed and utilities sought to increase supplies of renewable energy to meet state mandates.

Sources: GE, AWEA