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Wind power headed for great expansion in Northwest

A wind farm in central Washington.
Alex Williams
A wind farm in central Washington.

The amount of wind power in the Northwest is likely to double – and perhaps triple– over the next 15 years. That's according to a new estimate delivered Tuesday.

The Northwest has enough wind turbines to produce more than five-thousand megawatts of power. But Northwest Power and Conservation Council resource analyst Ken Dragoon says the region will have a lot more by 2025. He says renewable energy mandates in the Northwest are likely to double the region’s wind power.

“And some additional wind might be developed in the Northwest to help California reach their requirements. There’s a lot of uncertainty in that, and that could range as high as three or four thousand megawatts.”

The upper end of the estimates for the Northwest and California would add ten thousand megawatts, but Dragoon says while that’s possible, it’s not likely. The Power Council is planning to re-start a special work group next month to help address problems that wind power poses for the electrical grid.

Rob Manning has been both a reporter and an on-air host at OPB. Before that, he filled both roles with local community station KBOO and nationally with Free Speech Radio News. He's also published freelance print stories with Portland's alternative weekly newspaper Willamette Week and Planning Magazine. In 2007, Rob received two awards for investigative reporting from the Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists, and he was part of the award-winning team responsible for OPB's "Hunger Series." His current beats range from education to the environment, sports to land-use planning, politics to housing.