Wind Turbines in Pacific County

(Be sure to see my quotes!!)
Our climate is changing ... ready or not
A wind-powered future?
Four turbines being installed on Pacific/Grays Harbor county line, more possibly to come

Observer correspondent

About the series
In a yearlong series in 2006, the Chinook Observer and its sister newspapers in the East Oregonian Publishing Company focused on how global warming is impacting the Pacific Northwest. Our efforts opened eyes and garnered major national and regional awards.
Since then, evidence for rapid human-caused change has become incontrovertible. The Bush administration and both presidential candidates now share a belief that an urgent response is needed.
Starting today, we look at how climate science has advanced and how Northwest people are beginning to respond to this crisis. Impressive local and regional efforts offer considerable hope that we will find the will and ways to confront this epic threat.

PACIFIC COUNTY - The North Pacific region doesn't have many high-paying jobs or shopping malls, but one thing the coasts of Washington and Northern Oregon have, in spades, is wind. Lots and lots of wind.

This free resource will be put to use soon to help the people most in need in the region, thanks to a bright idea by Craig Dublanko, chief financial officer of Coastal Community Action Program (CCAP).

A $5 million grant from the Washington Legislature has helped fund a wind turbine pilot program to help the region's poorest residents and which could be the first of its kind in the country. When the program's completed, four 1.5-megawatt wind turbines will be constructed on the Grays Harbor/Pacific County line.

The project is "a social service project that happens to use a renewable resource to supplement CCAP's low-income project," Dublanko said. "We're looking at putting a lot of money back into the two counties to help people with housing, energy and food. Our goal is to meet their needs."

Dublanko said state Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, was a force behind getting funds in the state budget for the project. "Hargrove pushed for the money," Dublanko said. "The governor signed on to it and we'll be able to leverage the money to get low-income tax credits combined with energy tax credits to help finance the project. We had a vision and we just ran with it."

Tests began in 2004
The agency started testing towers in Grayland in 2004 and hopes to install permanent turbines next year. The turbines are atop a hill above cranberry bogs near Grayland.

"I'm pretty excited about it," Dublanko said. "I want to get brand-new state-of-the-art, low-maintenance turbines and put the money on the ground for social service projects."

In fact, Troy Colley, executive director of CCAP, said although no contract has been signed, they were offered a contract at the end of September by General Electric. "This was very significant," he said. "GE is a very big player in the industry. They liked our project idea and went to bat. This is a major, major step."

Once in place, the one-of-a-kind project will sell the power generated by the turbines to a utility, which will meter it and re-sell it, "putting money back into low-income programs in the two counties by supplementing existing programs and creating new ones to help families. It's the first of its kind in the country, as far as we know," Dublanko said.

Dublanko, 36, has been financial director and chief financial officer at CCAP for about 10 years and is truly a local. He grew up in Aberdeen, graduated from St. Martin's College in Lacey and said he "chose to come back to the area and raise a family. We're committed to the community and want it to do well. It takes lots of local people willing to come back and give back to the community. Our goal is for $100,000 a year going to low-income families in the two counties."

CCAP ( has an annual operating budget of about $7 million and 160 employees. CCAP is based in Aberdeen with an office in South Bend.

CCAP has been studying the wind for seven years, Dublanko said.

"We've been working on this for a very long time," he said. "We're very patient. We know there's good enough wind here to make the project work."

No shortage of wind
A 50-meter-tall test tower was constructed three years ago and anemometers on the towers kept recording during last December's storm and a wind gust recorded at 133.4 miles per hour.

Prevailing winds are from the south-southwest and the 100-meter-tall turbines will be placed at an angle to capture the maximum direct hits.

Another goal of the wind project is to "stimulate a little more traffic for the businesses in the Grayland area," Dublanko said. "We're hoping people will come to see the turbines and maybe help out local restaurants and other businesses. Lots of people go to Ocean Shores and it's just a short drive to the turbines. It will only help the area."

Colley said he hopes a reader board will be constructed on the highway, once the turbines are operating, to monitor the system and to tell passersby how many megawatts are being generated and how many households that output is serving.

Dublanko's hoping the project will create a model that can be reproduced in other communities to help them become more self-sufficient in their low-income programs. "I really want to emphasize that this is a social project that just happens to be using renewable energy. We had a really good idea that became a reality when Hargrove and the Legislature stepped up on our behalf. We're working on it every day and hope to have the turbines up before too long."

Tolley said the agency is talking to regional power groups and local PUDs. "We'll have a power purchase agreement in place before we purchase the turbines," he said.

"This is the first of its kind in the country - a social service, green energy plan with a financing package using tax credits. We want a green project and we want to use local resources."

Local supporters
Nan Malin of Seaview, a CCAP board member, says she's enthusiastic about the project because some of the funds will help the agency's energy assistance program "so it won't be dependent on grants. There are lots of seniors who take advantage of the program and need it. It's a really good example of how a creative idea can help low-income people. We're the only non-profit with a mission to fight poverty that has a program like this and we're one of the first to use the new energy tax credits. We hope this can be a model for other community action boards."

Community Action Programs (CAP) are dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of individuals, families, the elderly, children and youth and people with disabilities. CAPs are nonprofit private and public organizations established under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 to fight America's War on Poverty. CAPs help people to help themselves in achieving self-sufficiency. There are about 1,000 Community Action agencies serving the poor in every state, Puerto Rico and the Trust Territories.

"People don't understand that CAPs are everywhere across the country," Malin said. She explained that she serves on a 15-member tripartite board - one-third from the government sector, one-third private enterprise and one-third from the low-income sector. The board decides how to spend funds to fight poverty.

"It's very fulfilling to serve on the CCAP board," Malin said. " I enjoy the board's professionalism and energy. It's the best run, most efficient board I've ever served on. They walk their talk. I really appreciate that our money is being used efficiently and is going to the people who really need it. We have a direct impact that affects families. It will be great to have not only alternative energy, but also to have the income from it so we can provide help for the poor."

Public utility also testing the winds
There's another wind-power scheme in the works besides the CCAP project. Pacific County PUD No. 2 is developing a plan for Radar Ridge that's in the planning and permitting stages and, according to Doug Miller, general manager of the PUD, will be in commercial operation in 2011.

"There's no guarantee this will come together," Miller said. "We're in negotiations now with Energy Northwest, who stepped up to purchase the output of the project." Energy Northwest, a joint-operating agency organized to develop power resources, has 21 members including Seattle City Light, Tacoma Power and the City of Richland. Other members are PUDs throughout Washington and California which "has huge green-energy appetite."

The agency currently is generating wind power in the Tri-Cities area and at the Nine-Mile Canyon Wind Project in the Ellensburg area.

"As we move ahead with the Radar Ridge project, there will be public meetings to explain what we're doing," Miller said. "We need to get a little further along."

Photo above: GENERAL ELECTRIC photo Four wind turbines, like those shown in this photograph, will soon be installed along a ridge on the Pacific/Grays Harbor county border. A few more are planned for later installation on Radar Hill.
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