PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Federal cash grants worth more than $140 million were awarded Tuesday to energy companies operating three Eastern Oregon wind farms.

The grants will help offset the cost of building Horizon Wind Energy's Wheat Field wind farm in Arlington and Portland-based Iberdrola Renewables' Pebble Springs wind farm in Gilliam County and Hay Canyon wind farm in Sherman County.

Part of the Obama administration's economic recovery program, the grants are meant to jumpstart renewable wind, solar, geothermal and biomass energy projects while providing jobs.

"The money released today will help keep Oregon at the forefront of wind technology," Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon. "It will create jobs immediately and continue laying the foundation for an industry that will play a major role in energy production for decades to come."

Iberdrola spokeswoman Jan Johnson told Bloomberg News that the grants will partly cover construction costs for five projects in Illinois, Arizona, North Dakota, Texas and in Oregon, where the company is developing Star Point, a 99-megawatt wind project in Sherman County.

Wind farms have become increasingly common sights in eastern and north central Oregon, where they're often located in wheat fields. They're praised for producing renewable energy and bringing economic development to rural areas.

But critics say giant wind projects are intrusive, noisy and harm wildlife.

The grant program "will enable our company and others to keep investing in new renewable energy while the financial markets mend," Iberdrola President and CEO Ralph Currey said in a statement.

Read or Share this story: