The search for viable and reliable alternate and renewable sources of electricity has brought together electric utilities in California, Oregon, and Nevada in a half-dozen new power projects involving the sun, wind, or geothermal , estimated to have a cost of more than $350,000.
Nine Western utilities, both public and investor-owned, are sponsors of these alternative approaches to electric power generation.
Wind generation of power in Oregon is expected to take a giant stride forward between now and 1987, when two large-scale, wind-power ''farms'' now planned for the southern Oregon coast begin operation. Pacific Power & Light Company (PP&L) here has a stake in both those projects, while Portland General Electric Company (PGE) has joined PP&L in the other.
Of the nine utilities, Pacific Power is the only one involved in all six projects.
Four other proposed projects include:
* An 11,000-kilowatt fuel-cell project that is a cooperative effort of PP&L; PGE; United Technologies, of Hartford, Conn.; and Tektronix, a Portland electronics firm.
* A 2,500-kw. central station solar plant, to be built by Boeing Engineering & Construction Company of Seattle for PP&L, PGE, CP National of San Francisco, and Harney Electrical Co-operative in Burns, Ore.
* A 2,000-kw. direct, solar-conversion photovoltaic power plant for the Northwest, to be designed and built by Acurex Solar Corporation of Mountain View , Calif., for PP&L, PGE, Harney, the Pacific Northwest Generating Company of Portland (a group of public utility interests), and Surprise Valley Electrification Corporation, Alturas, Calif.
* A 10,000-kw. geothermal generating plant, announced in May 1981, to be built for PP&L, the Eugene (Ore.) Water & Electricity Board, Sierra Pacific Power Company, of Reno, Nev., and Sacramento (Calif.) Municipal Utility District. The plant is to be built and operated by a joint venture firm organized by the four utilities and called NORNEV Demonstration Geothermal Company.
The Oregon wind farms program calls for construction, in the first project, of 25 wind-driven electrical generators in Coos County, south of the town of Coos Bay. In the other, a generating complex of 30 wind-driven turbines is planned for Curry County, near Cape Blanco, north of Port Orford.
Those two sites, with wind velocity running to 18 miles an hour on an annual basis, are considered the best in the entire Northwest for the purpose.
For the Coos County set-up, AeroViron- ment Inc, Pasadena, Calif., will finance the purchase and installation of the turbines, which will be built by Energy Sciences Inc., Boulder, Colo. In connection with this Coos County project , PP&L's sole obligation will be to purchase the electric power produced.
Joining PP&L and PGE in Oregon's Curry County project will be Windfarms Ltd., of San Francisco, which is to manage the feasibility study and project licensing , and also assume responsibility for financing, constructing, and operating the project. Power produced at the Curry County site would be sold, not only to PGE and PP&L, but to the Bonneville Power Administration.
The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) has been asked to fund feasibility studies of four of the proposed projects, which will include the Curry County ''wind farm,'' both solar projects and the fuel cell project. The request to BPA was made under terms of the Regional Power Act, covering renewable power generating projects.
Estimated cost of the six projects ranges from $250 million for the Curry County ''wind farm'' to $50 million for the fuel cell project. There was no estimate of the cost of the Coos Bay project, as costs are to be borne by the builder, AeroVironment Inc.