A Chicago-based company is no longer looking at tapping into power lines for a possible wind farm on Bent and Poor mountains in Roanoke County.
Invenergy Wind LLC withdrew its application for an interconnection feasibility study after the first stage of the review was completed, according to PJM, which manages the electricity distribution grid for Virginia, 12 other states and Washington, D.C.
Since last year, Invenergy Wind had been conducting preliminary studies looking at reliability, costs, wind speeds, wind consistency and other factors before deciding whether to build wind turbines that could generate up to 81 megawatts from undisclosed sites on Bent and Poor mountains.
PJM’s feasibility study, which was completed this summer, found that adding 81 megawatts would further overload or nearly overload power lines and circuits at several points.
The study found that those problems could be solved by replacing or upgrading equipment at a cost of more than $1.6 million over one to four years.
The wind energy industry has long been based in the West, but it is rapidly expanding into the Appalachians and other eastern sites as the United States looks for more renewable power sources.
Wind turbines produce clean energy but often cause controversy because they can kill large numbers of birds and bats and harm other natural resources.
Wind energy companies are considering a number of sites in Virginia for wind farms. But those sites are not known until the companies notify the public or file an application for an interconnection feasibility study with PJM.
Dozens of applications for wind power in the mid-Atlantic region are pending with PJM, but the only project pending in Virginia is in Highland County, where a 19-turbine project is being considered for the state’s first major wind farm. Another wind energy company is doing preliminary studies in Patrick County for a possible wind farm.
PJM spokesman Ray Dotter said confidentiality agreements prohibited him from discussing Invenergy Wind’s interest in Bent and Poor mountains, but he said most early studies by energy companies do not proceed to construction.
Enio Ricci, vice president for business development for Invenergy Wind, did not return calls Tuesday seeking comment. In May, Ricci said the company could take one to two years to decide whether to proceed with the project.
Eastern wind farms typically use 400-foot-high turbines, and 81 megawatts could require more than 50 turbines covering several miles, making it a large facility for the Appalachian Mountains.
Invenergy Wind applied for an interconnection feasibility study in January but withdrew it this summer.
PJM studied the reliability, costs and other factors of linking 81 megawatts generated by wind turbines into power lines for a Roanoke County wind farm during peak summer conditions in 2010.
The study looked at three points of tapping into the grid: the Matt Funk to Shawsville 138 kilovolt line, the Claytor to Hancock 138 kilovolt line and the Matt Funk 138 kilovolt substation. The study also found that the project could contribute to overloads on two other circuits and a transformer.
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