A large scale wind farm to be built in central Oregon has received "a conditional commitment to provide a partial guarantee for a $1.3 billion loan" from the U.S. Department of Energy. Made up of 338 GE wind turbines, the Caithness Shepherds Flat 845 megawatt project will create 400 construction jobs (plus 35 permanent jobs once up and running) and promises a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to that produced by more than 200,000 cars.

"Thanks to the Recovery Act, we are creating the clean energy jobs of the future while positioning the U.S. as a world leader in the production of renewable energy," said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "This project is part of the Administration's commitment to doubling our renewable energy generation by 2012 while putting Americans to work in communities across the country."

Under the scheme, the DOE guarantees up to 80 percent of a loan provided to a renewable energy project by qualified financial institutions. The Caithness Shepherds Flat project is the largest project to date to receive this offer and 15 clean energy projects totaling $15.9 billion in total loan guarantees are currently supported by the scheme.

To put the size of this project in perspective, the Three Mile Island nuclear power station generates around 800 megawatts and coal fired power stations generally produce around 1000 megawatts, but can be as large as 5000 megawatts. Renewable energy stations are generally on a smaller scale, but several projects underway around the globe highlight coming changes – a 500 megawatt offshore wind farm is planned for the U.K, a 420 megawatt project is being developed in Australia and the Alta Wind Energy Center in California eventually aims to generate 3,000 megawatts. On the solar side of the equation, a 280 megawatt facility is planned for Arizona, a 100 megawatt project is in development in the UAE and a whopping 2-gigawatt solar power plant is slated for development in Inner Mongolia.

Power from the Caithness Shepherds Flat project be sold to Southern California Edison.