The region’s newest wind farm is changing ownership, The Tribune-Democrat has learned.
Gamesa USA, developers of the Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm on the Cambria/Blair county border, is selling its entire interest in the facility to Australian-based Babcock & Brown LP.
The selling price of the 40 turbines in what was termed Phase I of the windmill initiative was not disclosed by Gamesa officials Thursday.
“We have sold to Babcock & Brown. This will be their second project in the state,” Gamesa spokesman Michael Peck said.
Gamesa began wind testing and negotiating land deals with property owners in 2004.
Allegheny Ridge turbines in Portage, Washington and Cresson townships in Cambria County and Greenfield and Juniata townships in Blair County are expected to be operational early next year. The power generated will be sold in an already-negotiated deal with First Energy.
The blades were some of the first off the assembly line at the Gamesa plant outside Ebensburg.
Peck said Gamesa will stay involved in the farm through turbine maintenance only.
Attractive tax credits in place by the federal government for wind power projects played a role in Gamesa’s decision to sell, Peck said.
“We’re not in the place to take full advantage of the wind tax credits. We have to sell this project” to a company that can fully capitalize on them, he said.
A Babcock & Brown spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.
Gamesa hopes to complete the deal by Dec. 31, Peck said.
One of the things holding up completion of the sale is the OK needed from officials in the five host townships. No snags are expected in any of the localities.
Portage Township on Wednesday approved a letter acknowledging the change in ownership and confirming Gamesa is not violating a development agreement it reached with the township in 2005.
The assurance falls short of guaranteeing that the wind farm has no state or federal environmental violations, something local officials say they have no way of knowing.
The document does state that, to the best of the township’s knowledge, Gamesa is in compliance with the agreement and permit and that the transfer of ownership to Babcock & Brown does not violate that deal, Portage Township Solicitor C.J. Webb said.
The Gamesa-Babcock deal indicates that wind power is a good investment, said Frank Maisano, a Washington-based lobbyist for the turbine industry.
“Some of my guys have heard about this deal. People are looking for projects out there to invest in.”
On Wednesday, Washington Township officials discussed the letter and are expected to act Dec. 26, Solicitor Thomas Swope said.
He will recommend that supervisors approve the document.
The Portage Water Authority, host of eight windmills on its watershed near the top of the Blue Knob Mountain, was to discuss the commitment Thursday night.
Chairman Dennis Beck anticipates the change in ownership will have little impact on the authority. “There’s not that much to maintain,” he said.
Cresson Township is expected to discuss the matter Thursday.
By Kathy Mellott
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