enXco, Inc.’s (enXco) economic impact report on the proposed Desert Claim wind power project in Kittitas county, prepared by the Central Washington University (CWU) claims that the project will contribute $17.3 million to the local economy during construction and $2.8 million every year it operates. The report also predicted the site will create 160 jobs during construction and 25 permanent jobs after being built, and $900,000 in local property taxes.
The $330 million, 95-turbine, wind farm will be the fourth wind power project in Kittitas county. It will cover 5,200 acres and generate 190 megawatt, enough to power 57,000 homes. The company expects to start construction in 2010.
The report estimates the full range of economic impacts involving construction of the wind farm and its operation from year to year. The study is based on local economic conditions and formulas specific to wind farms as recommended by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have been used.
The 160 construction jobs would come at a time when about 200 Kittitas county construction workers are out of work, Richard Mack CWU professor and author of economic impact study for Desert Claim wind farm said. The county had an unemployment rate of 9.6% at the end of January, 2009 Mack said.
More than half of those jobs, about 60% or 70% probably will be filled by local contractors, said David Steeb, the project director.
Alot of work at the wind farm is technical, but roads, cement foundations and electrical equipment common to any construction site, are also included Steeb said.
Out of 25 permanent jobs, half will work directly for enXco, doing everything from clerical duties to changing lubricants to cleaning the bugs off the turbine blades, Steeb said.
Average wages would be about $14.49 per hour for administrative employees, while technicians would make $20 per hour and managers $38.19 per hour.
Remaining would show up in support businesses, such as hardware stores and local maintenance contractors, which would boost staffing levels to serve the wind farm.
In addition, the company would make about $600,000 annually in lease payments to landowners, the study said.
It’s a good chunk of change, Mack said.
There’s nothing really magical about it, Steeb said.
We’re excited, said Marshall Madsen, president of the Ellensburg Chamber of Commerce. Let’s bring it on.
The state’s energy plant permitting process requires economic impact studies for the entire state. EnXco is working on one of those, Steeb said. Mack’s report was extra, Steeb said, to gauge the impact on Kittitas county only.
enXco had been designing the project since 2001. It’s first application was rejected by the county commissioners nearly four years ago because the 350 turbine towers were too close to the homes of nonparticipating neighbors.
enXco reapplied in February 2009 with the state’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council after redesigning the project with turbines farther away from most of the homes.