ARISTES — A multimillion-dollar alternative energy project involving 51 wind turbines is under way here and may be completed as early as August.
International power company Iberdrola Renewable Energies and Wisconsin-based Alliant Energy EPC are building the windmills on a mountaintop off Route 42.
Seven of the turbines will be in Conyngham Township, said supervisor Chairman James Tarlecki. The rest, as he understands it, are to extend about 10 miles east and connect to the area where 13 turbines were built on 1,038 acres of land north of Mahanoy City, Schuylkill County, last year. That project is called Locust Ridge Wind Farm, and, fittingly, the new project will be called Locust Ridge II.
With a price tag of $104 million, the wind turbines will power about 20,000 homes, said project manager Mike Abraham, a contractor with Sanderfoot Wind and Excavating out of Appleton, Wisc., the company building the turbines.
Each of the 51 windmills will potentially generate about 20,000 kilowatts of power per day, said Abraham.
Iberdrola spokesperson Joe Price wouldn’t confirm the project’s cost, stating that the company does not usually publish those figures.
He did put a figure on how much land the company has obtained in the area where the windmills will be erected.
“We have leased about 5,700 acres of property, but only 150 of that will be used for the project,” Price said in a phone interview.
So far, there are only windmill bases and concrete to show for the work that Abraham and some 40 others began on Jan. 15.
“Bolts sticking out of concrete in a hole, that’s about all you’re going to see at this point,” Abraham said in mid-February.
He said the windmills won’t be up until July or August at the earliest.
Abraham said the project was scheduled to begin in September, but necessary roadwork had not yet been completed.
The Locust Ridge II project was approved by the Conyngham Township Board of Supervisors and went through the Columbia County Planning Commission. Tarlecki said the
project will have “very little” impact on township residents, as the nearest home is “a couple thousand feet” from the project site.
“We really think it’s a good project. Anything we can do to reduce the energy, that’s a good thing,” Tarlecki said on behalf of the supervisors.
Locust Ridge Wind Farm Project Senior Developer Joseph Green is also involved in this second installment of turbines. He declined comment on
Locust Ridge II, saying his remarks would require corporate approval from Iberdrola.
The Locust Ridge Wind Farm was the first for Iberdrola in the United States. The company signed an agreement in 2006 to sell energy to PPL Corp., Allentown.
Locust Ridge generates about 70,000 megawatt hours annually, which could supply energy to all the occupied homes in Pottsville, Port Carbon, Mount Carbon and Palo Alto with electricity for a year, it was reported previously.
By Mallory Szymanski
23 March 2008