Wind Power in Oregon
- 3,383 MW of capacity
- 44 operating facilities, 1 spans Oregon and Washington state line
- 2,147 MW of additional capacity proposed, approved, or under review
- Sites range from 1.6 to 300 MW
- 13 largest facilities make up 69% of total capacity
- 15 facilities, representing 590 MW, came online in 2009
Wind energy is captured when blowing wind moves turbine blades around a rotor, which turns a shaft that spins an electricity-producing generator.
Oregon’s wind energy
industry has developed mainly on the Columbia
River Plateau in north central Oregon. Wind farms have also cropped up in eastern Oregon near Milton-Freewater and North Powder.
Through the first quarter of 2017, Oregon ranked 8th in the nation in installed wind capacity with 3,213 megawatts. (American Wind Energy Association)
Most wind projects consist of utility-scale wind turbines that each stand hundreds of feet in the air. Most of Oregon’s wind generation capacity comes mainly from large-scale wind projects that supply power directly to the electric grid. As of November 2018, Oregon has 34 wind projects of 10 MW or greater and another 10 facilities under 10 MW. Sherman County has 1,057 MW of capacity; Umatilla, Morrow, and Gilliam counties combined have 2,179 MW of capacity.
Some facility owners are evaluating whether to repower some older wind projects with new, larger turbines and longer blades to increase generation output.
Learn more about wind power in Oregon in our Biennial Energy Report.
The state also has smaller-scale wind
projects, including several community-owned projects consisting of a few
mid-sized or large turbines, and numerous installations of small turbines
that generate power on-site for homes and businesses. The industry for
small turbines is less developed than the large, utility-scale wind industry.
With the increase of the
Oregon Renewable Portfolio Standard to 50 percent renewable energy by 2040, more wind projects will
likely be built in the state by independent developers and utilities.
Developing wind projects is a complex process, particularly due to grid interconnection and transmission access issues. New utility-scale wind projects in Oregon will likely require significant transmission
system investments. Small wind projects (<20 MW) have less impact on
transmission but require complex system studies that may result in the need for
expensive upgrades to the local grid.