October 9, 2006

Gamesa pursues Pine Grove windmills

An alternative energy provider will explain its plans to install windmills on land owned by the borough.

Gamesa Energy USA LLC, a wind turbine manufacturer headquartered in Spain, will discuss its plans during a meeting set for 7 p.m. Thursday in borough hall.

“The public should know what was taking so long,” Pine Grove Borough Council President Phyllis Hesser said last week.

Gamesa originally announced its plans more than a year ago.

“Most of them (residents) are anticipating the new source of energy,” Hesser said.

“I am for anything that eliminates having to buy oil to run electric plants or fossil fuels,” she added. “All we are doing with oil and coal is fouling up the atmosphere.”

Gamesa announced its plans more than a year ago.

Contacted at the company’s Philadelphia office, Peter K. Kennon, Gamesa project developer, said there is no delay. Gamesa, he added, is actively pursuing the project.

“There are a number of steps we have to go through to build a large construction project,” he said. “Nothing is out of the ordinary right now. This project is within a normal development schedule.”

According to Kennon, a wind energy project takes two to five years to develop.

“There are a number of factors that go into an electric project,” he said, including working on agreements with utility companies like PPL Electric Utilities Corp. to connect into their transmission lines.

Gamesa has not set a construction date, he said.

It won’t be the first wind power project in the county.

Community Energy Inc., owned by Iberdrola, a Spanish firm, is building 13 windmills at the Locust Ridge Wind Farm in Mahanoy Township.

EnergyPlus, a division of PPL, announced Sept. 27 that it will purchase power from the Locust Ridge facility.

George E. Biechler, PPL spokesman, Allentown, said legislation passed in 2004 is motivating companies to develop wind power.

The Renewables Portfolio Standard requires 18 percent of the total electricity sold by electric distribution companies and electric generation suppliers to come from alternative energy sources by 2020, he said, adding that include wind, water and solar.

Currently, 10 percent of the energy PPL markets comes from renewable sources, Biechler added.

Gamesa has not determined how many turbines it will build at the Pine Grove site.

“We were looking at the potential of building a wind farm there (Pine Grove) for some time,” Kennon said. “There are places in Pennsylvania that have a good wind resource,” he said, based on topography, wind flow and amount of land available to provide enough space between turbines.

Kennon declined to disclosed the cost of the Pine Grove proposal, since it will be developed privately.

Hesser said the project will generate revenue, but she could not say how much.

By Andrea T. Turano, Staff Writer


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