ARLINGTON - The Rural Development division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded a $500,000 grant to assist with construction of the Mar-Lu Wind Farm just west of Arlington.

The funds have been awarded to Columbia Energy Partners, LLC under the Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program, announced U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., co-chair of the House Renewable Energy Caucus.

Walden wrote a letter to the USDA in June encouraging support of the project,

The Mar-Lu Wind Farm is one of five renewable energy projects being developed by Columbia Energy Partners in Oregon and Washington, and the first of two planned for an 8,500-acre site near Arlington. The wind farm will generate power to serve local loads through interconnection to local utilities.

The total capacity for the first phase will be 5 megawatts, but phase two's projected capacity is 104 megawatts. Oregon currently produces a total of 259 megawatts of wind power.

"I'm almost speechless," said Chris Crowley, founder of Columbia Energy Partners, after hearing about the USDA support. "I am so appreciative of the support of the USDA and Congressman Walden. These funds represent a tremendous boost to our Mar-Lu project in Arlington and to the development of the wind power industry in Gilliam County."

Walden said it's a wise investment because wind power is a "clean, efficient and renewable source of power ... Wind power is vital to the diversification of our nation's energy portfolio, and the Columbia Gorge provides unique opportunities for the development of this industry."

Walden represents Oregon's 2nd Congressional District of Oregon, which includes 20 counties in Eastern, Central and Southern Oregon.

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