GRAYLAND - An ambitious one-of-a-kind plan, eight years in the making, will become a reality this spring when ground will be broken to install four 1.5-megawatt wind turbines on the Grays Harbor/Pacific County line, two on each side.
After hurdling mountains of permitting, the final appeal period was completed late last month by the Coastal Community Action Program (CCAP) to install the turbines. "We'll now focus on getting the last dominoes in place for the financing and the turbine contract," Troy Colley, executive director of CCAP, said.
There's plenty of wind to go around on the hill above Grayland cranberry bogs, and soon it will be put to use to help the people most in need in the region by generating power. That power will be sold to utilities and the profits will be used to benefit energy programs for low-income residents of the area.
A $5 million grant from the Washington Legislature helped fund the pilot program
The project is "a social service project that happens to use a renewable resource to supplement CCAP's low-income project," Craig Dublanko, CCAP's chief financial officer, 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."
"We will now focus on getting the last dominoes in place for the financing and the turbine contract. This should all take place by the end of January," Colley said. "GE believes it can have turbines to us by this summer. Installation takes a month or two. At this point, we could be online with our wind energy project by fall."
On the big day when power begins to be generated, Colley said there'll be a ceremony in Grayland "to flip the switch. We're really excited about this. It's been eight years of steady work and now we're racing toward the end. Persistence paid off. We had our moments of doubt, but we have prevailed."
Colley said CCAP is working in a partnership with the Greater Grayland Neighborhood Association. "They're really strong supporters," he said. He said the project is the first of its kind on the Washington coast and, as far as he knows, the first alternative energy plan in the country to benefit low income programs.